My Lottery Tickets Are All Duds

by Kristene Kaye Brown

but I buy them anyway. Little scratchers
full of confetti and hope,

numbers wrapping around my luck
like the lights of a police cruiser

wrapping around a man with nothing
to lose. Once, I mistakenly bought

two Fireball Bingos in Spanish
from the Gas and Go across the street,

the one that got busted for selling
synthetic marijuana. I remember

how the teenagers walked around
in some half-zombie state,

carrying sticks from trees
their great grandparents planted

for shade, now a trunk of weapons
the new generation use

to beat stray dogs. Not everything
is made to add up.

I still have that ticket.

A useless ticket I now use
as a bookmark to read books I wish

I’d written. Even now, I still
don’t know if I’m a winner or loser

because I never learned
the language of another and

I’m too embarrassed now to go back
and admit my mistake.

Kristene Kaye Brown is a mental health social worker. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has previously been published, or is forthcoming, in DIAGRAM, Harpur Palate, Minnesota Review, Nashville Review, and others. Kristene lives and works in Kansas City.