It all comes together in the sprawl
within homes and shopping centers basking
in the artificial light and the sounds
we now spend half our lives in programming.
Call it a form of worship in which faith
awaits succeeding images on screens
displaying visions of a promised land presumed
to lie beyond the imagined lottery.
Except we know we deserve the numbers
by right of having dreamed them — like Heaven
for the true believer, who also sins
if only just to prove he doesn’t always.
Inside the car no natural sounds impose
but signs remind us the images are real,
though not always as compelling as the game
held in your hand, restarted when you die.
M. A. Schaffner has had poems published in Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Agni, and elsewhere — most recently in Hermes, Modern Poetry Review, and Pennsylvania Review. Long-ago-published books include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia juggling a Toshiba laptop and a Gillott 404.
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