Mellie hit the brakes for the thousandth time. If she missed this seminar, the company would never hire her. She let off the brakes to creep along with traffic.
And they stopped again.
"Excuse me, ma'am."
Mellie jolted. A man stood next to her car, crouching to look in at her.
"I didn't mean to startle you," he said, grinning despite his worn overalls and badly stained T-shirt. He carried an olive-toned knapsack on his back. "I was hoping you could spare some change?"
"Oh," Mellie said, "Yeah. Yeah, hang on."
With disappointment, she found only pennies in her cup holder. Mellie remembered the thirteen dollars in her pocket, the last of her money.
Hesitating briefly, she handed him eight bucks. "Here, I hope this helps."
"God bless you, ma'am."
"No problem," she said, and drove forward.
Traffic finally broke, but then a lady tripped as she crossed the street. Several large packages tumbled to the ground. Mellie glanced to the clock on her car's dash, sighing, and parked. She sprinted over and helped the woman collect the thin, rectangular parcels.
The brown packaging paper nearly ripped completely off of one.
"Is this a Cremble?" Mellie asked, admiring the fine detail of the oil painting. "I used to paint a little, as a hobby, you know."
"Not many recognize Cremble." The lady smiled, reaching in her purse and handing her a pamphlet. "Stop by the exhibit over here on First Street later."
Mellie thanked her and returned to her car. She loved to paint. She remembered in high school, how she dreamed of painting for the rest of her life.
She started backing her car out, glancing at the time.
A guy on a bicycle pounded on the trunk of her car, cursing at her. Mellie slammed on the brakes, watching the cyclist continue down the road.
She drove forward, put it back in park, and stepped out onto the street.
For as long as she remembered, she considered adulthood synonymous with money. Happiness, the same as money.
Mellie strode down First Street, into the art exhibit. Cocktail dresses and suits filled the room.
"Excuse me, ma'am." The homeless man grinned. "I hear you enjoy painting?"
"This exhibit is a fundraiser to help those in need," the woman from the street explained, stepping into view from behind the man.
"Earlier, I was conducting a social experiment. I wanted a video to use for this evening," the homeless man said. "Would you care to say a few words?"
That was four years ago. Now, as she stands in a room of her own art, she reflects. If she denied the Assistant Dean of Hollister Arts Institute those eight dollars, or ignored his assistant when she tripped, Mellie's dreams may have withered.
Luck is not a mystical or random force; it is a return of that which you place into the world.
Leave it to Cleaver
I rest upon the havoc carried
in the wake of gloom, floating
forward soft above the surface of
swaying blades and silken spider hammocks.
I struggle for root, cleaving to the luck
of windbreak crashing earth.
but fate will leave me rolling
down the glimmered trickle of flooded
need, carrying me ocean,
to join the great seedling cemetery
and when I cross the salted threshold
I'll feel the downward thrust of fortunes cleaver
sever my chances of bloom, never to be
plucked by love, never to tickle the dainty breath
of damsels adored in cluster made of petals
worthy to die and dissipate and waft for queens.
A Vulnerable Vocabulary
Peeling rust from tongue and pen,
I wonder just how long it's been.
Words are my fair-weather friend;
The currency I over-spend.
I often wonder if I had saved,
Perhaps emission I would not crave.
For when I'm down to my last drop,
I'm quick to share, I cannot stop.
Today I'll take a walk with luck,
He might just help me come unstuck.
But if the clouds are hung just right,
He might just laugh and taunt in spite.
That's why I'll offer my sanity,
He can't resist a fleshy plea.
For once he has a taste you see,
Our bargain will be the death of me.
His wrist flicks and the cylinder centrifuges in a metallic blur. Another flick snaps the snub-nosed revolver into death mode. He hands me the firearm, five midnight black caverns empty like a lion's pulled teeth and one with that dull lead projectile ready to shatter bone and liquify brains.
I press the gun to my head. The cool mouth kisses my temple; I hope it's not a goodnight kiss. My pores vomit salty water and the undercooked bird churns in my guts like a cement mixer. I try to swallow but can't. A man yells at me in a foreign tongue.
How did I get here? That story's too goddamned long. Let's just say I like to dance with Death.
Finger wraps around the trigger, a python around its prey. The table is layered with currency from more countries than I can count. There's more yelling. My chest is tight. I wish I'd called my parents today.
A lighting bolt paralyzes my face and I taste the tinny brine of blood. A man with the face of a prune threatens to clock me again.
I guess there's no use in keeping them waiting. I hope today's my lucky day.
The Good, the Bad and the Dumb
Was it good luck that got me out of that ticket?
Bad luck when traffic's slow but I'm in a hurry?
Dumb luck that no one got hurt when I ran that red light?
Why would luck give a flying fuck about traffic worries?
Was it good luck when I first met my husband?
Was it bad luck I thought my son needed a father?
Was it dumb luck that I grew tired of being abused?
Where love's concerned, why would luck even bother?
Was it good luck that you were there when I was lonely?
Was it bad luck we got drunk and reckless that night?
Was it dumb luck we both have a weakness for whiskey?
Luck of the Irish, at least until dawn's harsh light?
Was it good luck that I fell in love with you?
Did bad luck show up just to make my marriage fail?
Did dumb luck give me the courage to finally leave?
Was it luck of the draw, when my life became a fire sale?
Should we thank our lucky stars when life is good?
Should we curse our rotten luck when life sucks?
No, we reap what we sow and life reflects our choices,
except for random twists of fate that we call Luck.
No Such Thing.
Luck is made by the unshackled brave.
Bring forth the ghost of fear.
Shoot him down with synthesised speech, like this;
Realise all that surrounds YOU now is first perceived within you, then.
For you are the law within your own judiciary.
You are the light that illuminates your unborn incubus chasing him far, far, far.
You are your moon, your sun and your stars.
Look to it and so shall it actualise.
To yourself you can tell no lies.
Only future dreams... Future scenes of plenty.
So, fuck, luck.
Mould existence to your will.
Want no one else ill.
And be overjoyed at what already surrounds you now.
Come what may is what you allow.
the Fourth Leaf
I used to
but luck is
what happens when
you realize that life is
a field, not a forrest
and less-traveled is
this road, no more
than a couple shuffled
It isn't always
sunlit and daisies
but your feet are
the only movement
the flood-washed grass
I watched a raindrop
falling and I tried
to save him;
my fingers closed
but he only
washed away the
firefly that I had caught
and I thought
story of my life:
roll under things