Michael Mark

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Game of Revenge

“This is the last Bingo 
of the day – awww.” 

The man at the nursing 
home uses his talking
to slow children voice.

“Bingo!" someone shouts,
after the third ball is called.

Hisses and boos rise from
the crowd in wheelchairs 
and hospital gowns.
Some clap.

We have a system: I point 
and she puts the red plastic 
chip on the space. 
Then I say, “Perfect” 
and she mimics, “Perfect.”

Or meows like a cat.

When we win, I tell
her, “Yell Bingo!"
She stares at the card. 

I want her to say “Bingo.” 
They put her in this
hellhole, with a crappy,
mean roommate, and zombies
walking the halls.

Her children abandoned her
and she won Bingo.

Before the man
up front calls
another letter and number,
before someone else
could take away 
her Bingo,

I squeeze her arm 
and she pulls it 
up and yells, 

The man stops.
Those who are able, turn.

“Is that a Bingo?” the man 

“Say it, dammit."
I growl. 

The Tribe

When you don’t show up for bridge 
it creates a murmur.
By the second day, someone is sure to ring 
the doorbell.

After a week, there will be a photo of you 
from the Cinco De Mayo party, wearing
a sombrero, in the recreation hall under 
the pastel colored Get Well Soon

There are official scorekeepers. 
They make their calculations 
based on skin tone, tremors, medications
and appetite.

If you come back from a doctor’s visit 
using a walker,
that will get a mark on their card.
The broadcasters work the benches, 
the cafeteria, between sessions
at the rehab facility. 

If you say you’re not up for
Friday knitting,
an empty chair is left by the door.

This is the tribe giving the signal
there’s going to be room in the circle
relatively soon.


Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. michaeljmark.com