Jackpot Romance – by Kevin Ridgeway

On our walk home one night,
my girlfriend and I found a mountain
of discarded spare change at the bus stop
in front of a closed down Jack in the Box
in West Covina, CA, where we were
both trying to defeat the bottle
by wandering around on buses
and crashing cultural events
at the nearby colleges followed
by midnight movies with the rats
at a sleazy dollar movie theater
in nearby Pasadena whose
dollar hot dogs we lived on
because we were both on disability.
We fell on bruised, flophouse knees
pouring coins into our shopping bags,
both of us astonished at the hard luck break.
We treated ourselves to a late dinner
under the hazy mechanized fluorescent suns
lighting a taco wagon where they wrapped
burritos thicker than my already bulging
beer gut waist line, a minor victory during
our struggle to find light in the darkest places.
But that was years ago, and since then
she lost her battle with the toxic spirits
that have left me dry, slim and with money
in my pocket and a mind that battles
regret for the tragedy of our love
and the end of her life against those
moments when we didn’t feel any pain
like we did when we found that mountain
of spare change, which made us feel like
we could afford to love each other forever.

Kevin RidgewayKevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and twelve chapbooks of poetry, including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press) and In His Own Little World (Between Shadows Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Hobo Camp Review, Book of Matches, Misfitand San Pedro River Review, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.