As the Powerball lottery makes headlines again, climbing to a $1.5 billion payout, I thought I’d post this poem I wrote back in 2018, about the largest jackpot payout in history. It’s from my first book of poems, Figments.

To buy a ticket is to buy an opportunity not to win, because you won’t, but to dream about winning. To live for a few days with the thought that it might be you, out of everyone else, it might be you that’s chosen. And what kind of person, what kind of life would you lead then? You buy a ticket to think these thoughts.

What it Means

The poem tells you what it means
if you drove all the way to buy a lottery ticket
on the Californian border because
you never know about these things
and there’s a line because nobody’s won yet.
The payout is over a billion—Imagine that!
Imagine what you could buy with all that.
You have to remember you’re at the age
when you’ve started to feel as though
you might’ve missed out on something.
Whatever it is, a billion dollars should cover it.

You know there’s a better chance
of being struck by lightning. The news
keeps telling you that. But it doesn’t matter
because who wouldn’t want to be struck
by lightning and live to tell about it?
You’re assuming you’ll live because
you’re assuming the right kind will hit you
and not anyone else standing in a line that
outlines the parking lot of the Indian casino.
After all who wouldn’t mind
their greatness being thrust upon them?

It might as well be you, you’re decent,
and if you won you’d want your family
and friends to have some. You might
even give back to the community, who knows.
At any rate it would certainly be nice to lift
this weight off your back, whatever it is.
What you’d do with the money is less important
than what you imagine being chosen must feel like.
A world somehow faithful to your point of view.
For you require great significance to satisfy.
You must touch lightning bolts to live.

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