Author Archives: Emily Carroll

About Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll is the co-curator of Moonlighting, the Boston Poetry Slam’s LGBTQ reading series. Her work has appeared in Guernica and Umbrella Factory, as well as on IndieFeed Performance Poetry. She slings drinks, and sometimes poems, at the Cantab Lounge. If you wanted her to serve you a tonic and gin, you should have ordered it that way.

Three Poems – Emily Carroll



winning the lottery


It’s a game everyone plays. In the night-

shift idle chatter, the smoke break grunting,

the conversation with perfect strangers.

When I ask can I get you anything

else? the woman, her face hewn with age, spits

yeah, how about tonight’s winning numbers.

She is a million sagging faces, every night’s rancid

voices and wilted jokes. Sometimes it’s yeah,

a million dollars. Sometimes it’s filthy. Sometimes

it gets big, sometimes you feel lucky, sometimes

it’s just the only easy thing to talk about.

But everyone does. The houses in the hills for their

mother, their brother, the waitress. The businesses

started. The cars, the diplomas, the debts

paid off. My lover says he’d sleep in a different city

every week, he’d never do laundry again.

We rock back on our heels, take another drag, whistle

under our breath, hum that damn song. Everyone’s

got their tell. It’s easy to talk about. It’s not complaining,

exactly. Everyone’s got an answer, even if they’d really

just blow it all on one house with too many rooms, or go

bankrupt playing high roller, or leave it all in the bank

and watch it for years, afraid it would bite. Everyone’s

played this game. I’ve never been good at it, in the way

I don’t have a lot of party tricks. A vast array

of magazine subscriptions, a near-infinite number of

french fries. The truth is, I can’t imagine what I’d buy.

The same things as everyone else, maybe—a new car,

a soothing lie. Everyone knows, when they play the game,

that money is an unstable element, and highly reactive.

That the things we actually want are embarrassingly

small. That a refrain that goes if I had about fifty more dollars

is not terribly catchy. That the one-in-a-million ticket

doesn’t buy the thing we all imagine on our smoke breaks,

the thing we try to imitate in our cheap suits, someone to tell us,

and mean it, that we’re safe,               safe,               safe


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