The Lottery, 1969<br>J. Patrick Lewis
project name

The Lottery, 1969
J. Patrick Lewis

The Lottery, 1969

J. Patrick Lewis


Cracked jackets of field corn bake

at the back end of Heartbreak, Iowa.

Easing his way north through

the yellowing tallboys, Luke Jacks,

on the cliff of nineteen, on the run

from hell with a name like home,

stops to hear the lies late August tells.

A blue racer coils at his feet. Swifts

kamikaze the nest of his cinnamon hair.

An orphan cloud stalls like a thought.

Young Luke dream-sails the gray nimbo

effortless and immense over the hounds

of hate his Daddy breeds for company

and spite past the whole thin shimmer

of his come-to-nothing life past razor

eyes gone slant with accusation and

minds so crazed by white-hot conviction

they shouldn’t be worth hawkspit

to this gaunt captain of a ship called

Consequence on a day named Desire.

And even that short straw broke when

Luke’s birthday cropped up number five

in the Vietnam crap-shoot shoveling him

deep into 1-A country and here he is

hunched down on the sun-spidered tile

of Iowa looking back looking ahead

wondering whether he can ride out

this nightmare on the back of a twenty

dollar bill and whittled-to-splinter odds

of making it in a land as alien as space

and altogether improbable as Canada.