“Boardwalk Empire” by Truth Thomas

Truth Thomas


Atlantic City is a good trip
if you want to teach your children
about pimps and screaming

and gunshots screaming
at three o’clock in the morning,
and seagulls that eat better

than people do, and wheelchairs
parking people with oxygen
tanks for guards—people

with canyons, instead of bags,
under their eyes, addiction lighting
their eyes like LEDs in flat

screens, at the boardwalk,
on the boardwalk, Under
the Boardwalk, where only

sirens sing, at the Trump
Taj Mahal, at 3 o’clock
in the morning. At 3 o’clock

in the morning, you can order
Buffalo chicken pizza, with blue
cheese on the side, from South

End Pizza, and they will bring it
to your room—if you have
a room. Say you have a room,

and paper to flame for a pie,
and you’re not sleeping
in the shadow of “The Donald,”

of “The Donald Duck,”
of the “Dick,” also known
as Donald, at Trump Taj Mahal,

where even seagulls
have comb-overs, yours will be
a good room. Wet bars thirst

for these rooms. All pimps know
these rooms, like lipstick tricked
knows sucky sucky sounds.

You might be on the 42nd floor.
You might be loopy in loot.
If you are loopy with loot,

your good time sugar will be glazed,
but if you are not buttered and hot,
thick with bread, you will be

a Happy Meal for seagulls,
in Atlantic City—in America
City—and tourists will clap

for these birds, finger them in phones,
as they Hitchcock into storm,
tornado into pecks,

scavenge whimpers of your children,
and shit them out, up and down
the Ferris wheeling street.

from Rattle #55, Spring 2017

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Truth Thomas: “I’ve always been drawn to poetry that uplifts and transforms in the context of social justice activism. There is courage, humility, and a sense of useful purpose in the spirit of such work that appeals to me. In that light, I do not write for me. Primarily, I write as honestly as I can to reflect the world in which I live in the hope that my efforts will help somebody.” (facebook)

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