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XIII

by Shane Signorino


"There are coincidences and chances from which you die laughing, and there are coincidences and chances from which you die." ~ Enrique Vila-Matas


I Gotta bad luck burn needled in black on my neck's bones in one forgotten roadstop shop. Three-toothed tattoo artist with rough workman's hands and spaghetti western fuman moustache, dressed like a west Texas cowboy who'd done his share of cattle-herding long ago, laughs, "You ready to be branded, boy?" Boy, oh boy, am I. Tilt cranking the hi-fi stereo to Johnny Cash moanin' through his rendition of 'Thirteen', singin' slowly, "Bad luck winds been blowin' at my back, I was born to bring trouble to wherever I’m at. "


II Mama held midwife’s marbles and Sioux Indian superstitions, once handing me one silver ball medallion, first shaking it in front of my ear, so I could hear the jingle jangle of tiny stars called headache charms. Mama said I was cursed from birth, wrong place wrong time nursery rhyme, "But this talisman could save you, son. It holds all your evil thoughts inside, chiming demons, reminding you to watch your step, beware the cardinal, beware the venial, beware little white lie sins." Mixing Catholicism, native magic, and gypsy myth.


III Stamped the 'bad luck familia syndrome' by Mama, years spent playin' endless games of grab-ass with this omen monkey, hunched over my back, I quickly came to believe Mama had been onto somethin’ when she warned me of crossing paths with black cats or when she spanked me thrice for shattering her makeup mirror, or when a ladder crushed me after I walked underneath. Time to walk the believer's walk straight into high-noon sun, black XIII tattoo seared into my neck, leaving forever curses behind.