Nevada

by Zoe Pollock

"On the Liquidation of the Mustang Ranch by the Internal Revenue Service" by X.J. Kennedy appeared in The Atlantic in 1991:

This poor old spread, its waterholes turned dust,

     Its paying herd stampeded, lies here slain.

     On Reno's rock-shanked hills frustrated rain

Refuses to descend. Spangles of rust

Bestride the bar where hands no longer shake

     Quick daiquiris to blur the fear of AIDS,

     Net stockings dangle hollow, grand parades

Kick off no more. A hibernating snake

Lies not more still. Beneath the auctioneer's

     Gavel fall crates of condoms, lingerie,

     The sign from the mirrored orgy chamber: FIRE

EXIT, the kindly tank of oxygen

     Whose sweet breath could that reveler inspire

To flare, who might have smoldered in dismay.

(Image by Flickr user Satosphere)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.