The Northville Review
an online literary journal
The Winners

James Valvis

My wife and I lose each other
in the casino. I try the car,
but she’s not there, try again
the slot machines, but no.
For half an hour, I move
from garage to game hall,
but she’s nowhere, nowhere.
We must be missing each other,
I think, me taking the elevator up
as she takes the other down,
like you see in Chaplin movies,
only this isn’t nearly as funny.
I decide it’s best to wait
by the car, but in just minutes
I wonder if she’s waiting
upstairs in the game room.
This happens to people
who are so much in step:
any half-step out of place
sends you chasing a shadow.
Sick, my stomach upset,
I take the elevator back up,
pace again the cluttered rows
of people trying to turn a little
into a lot, a small roll of bills
from a social security check
into all they ever longed for.
When at last I find my wife,
the poor woman is crying,
fearing I died or was abducted
by a gang of blackmailers.
She has that kind of imagination.
I take her in my arms,
thumb away her tears, and say,
“Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Reaching the car, we’re happy.
Anytime you can walk out
of anywhere breaking even,
consider yourself a winner.

About the author

James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). His writing can be found in Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Juked, LA Review, Northville Review, Rattle, River Styx, storySouth. His poetry has been featured at Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction has twice been a Million Writers Notable Story. He lives near Seattle.