poetry by James A. Perkins

Playing the Texas Lottery
(for Aimee Berger)

At the end of a flight from Pittsburgh
by way of Detroit, we are two trail-weary
wranglers herding our luggage
through the plastic furniture badlands
of George Bush Intercontinental
toward the blazing sunlight
of the ground transportation curb
when a voice rings out “Jim Perkins?”

We turn, and there you are.
“Been to a meeting all day,” you say.
“Going home to see Jack now.
Are you going to Bowling Green?”
I don’t answer. I’m thinking
there are more than 23 million Texans
and we know maybe ten:
three here in Houston, two in College Station,
two in Kingsville, two in San Antonio,
and you in Denton.
What are the odds?
“I’m not sure yet,” I say.
“Well, it’s good to see you.”
“You too,” I say,
as you walk away, crisp and professional
with your roller bag following you
like a well-trained Scottie.

“Well partner, let’s head ‘em up
and move ‘em out,” my wife says.
As we reach the door, I say,
“You know, given what just happened here,
I think we ought to buy ourselves
a Mega Millions lottery ticket.”