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)
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