Blaise’s Place

“This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.”
………………………………………………….— Blaise Pascal, on his wager 

Blaise’s place is on a sunset strip
slicing razor-straight through desert air,
many cul de sacs veer from its hot black path
which dies in a pass between mountains therea-die
west where the day goes down in a blaze

The road’s white line on the northern side
is lit with votive, flame-tipped wax
while on its south hot neon glows in glass tubes
glazing the way with pink veneer
as fountains spit from golden taps

The landscape reeks of myrrh & beer
on a highway set with a brilliant trap:
a bet to which Blaise alludes
and away from which the wary steer

A crooner’s song from a glittery stage
with background bells of dollar slots,
a mix of warp & weft on a nameless loom
with Gregorian chants wrung into gambler’s knots

—priests & players in cassocks, albs,
and sequined shirts and denim pants

—Adidas shuffling under slick, chic suits,
and heads with miters or baseball caps

—flung water & booze from an aspergillum
dipped in a Byzantine polystyrene flask
and flung, dot ears, eyes and throbbing sternums
thirsting for a light in which wisdom basks

But (as if in Solomon’s chair),
calling bettors there,
flings loaded dice against a wall
that runs from the floor past strosphere,
past moon, past sun, 
through curl of space
and end of time, but
always ends back here
where gamblers grumble
and losers grouse
that the odds (by grace)
are always with the house

by Jim Culleny