At The Mirage by Cheyenne Nimes

At The Mirage

YEA ‘THO you walk through the valley of the shadow of the casino. Everyone passes through one city. As if the silence knew it well.

Lion-pawed sphinx staring you down like someone saying too much. A face with no beginning or end. You snap it closed like its own mouth. The House casting lots from somewhere in the room; the opposite of magic. A mirage is produced by refracted light. The pyramid slopes further into the corner if you look at it closer.

Back to the 105 sidewalks in an undressing. On the big screen is the sun: nothing that makes a sound. Burning from the outside in. You can guess where they’re from or where they’re going bound for nowhere: a buffet, a big show, the slots finding and losing and finding again. There’s no such thing as our creatures staying in one place. Weaving between the limited and the unlimited, a collection with the same stories over and over, they hold onto counting down to nothing. Possession. Dispossession. Somewhere they are heroes. In the middle of nowhere but on the way to everything: the tweaked palms, the night talking back to the margins, red strip, strips, stripped.

You can touch the places they aren’t, undercurrent that flows beneath found at the mouth of the local river they keep meaning to walk to the end of. The elements outside the city have answers only the elements can provide; discarded figures no one takes pictures of. It doesn’t have to be brought there from anywhere. The things which were seen were not made out of the things that appear.

The dark day and the clear day. One of them stands out; one of them is missing. They don’t know why the sky falls in these directions. If only they could guess who’s at the door. We dream bad dreams in rooms where people kill themselves.

There are only so many ways to end a story. Your standard explanations have been ruled out. Since there was then one; even now only one. Which when known all else can be known.

You are on your way home to something they just wouldn’t understand.




Based in Utah, Cheyenne Nimes is a cross-genre writer currently working on poetry/nonfiction hybrids. Work is forthcoming in The Shell Game, an anthology on forms (University of Nebraska). Awarded the Edwin Ford Piper Scholar Award for Names for Water Bodies & Other Places the Water Fell: A Micro-history of American Rivers and the World Water Crisis, she was a University of Iowa Art Museum resident writer chosen by Eula Biss. The Dead Elvis Ball was semi-finalist in Starcherone Press’ Experimental Novel Contest, and won the Michael Rubin Award from San Francisco State for Passing Through 90 Degrees, which garnered an NEA. South Loop Review, Ninth Letter, DIAGRAM, Kenyon Review, etc. are recent homes.


(Next story: My Body Feels Full of Stars by Lydia Copeland Gwyn)

(Previous story: The Color of Dead Things by Aleyna Rentz)

Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines

Want to submit to our special “Kill People” issue?

Image by Anthony DiLiddo