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T R Wingfield Jan 22
• (preface) . Ante Up •

Never Gamble with more
than you can afford to lose

• Prologue : The Deal •

From the dusty haze
between hot mirage waves
in desert air
refracting red shifted rays
of the horizonal sun
bouncing off the highway
appears an indigent itinerant
who’s seen better days,
walking alone
at a leisurely pace,
west towards sunset
and night and escape,
without baggage or burden
beyond his distempered ways.

He comes suddenly upon an unexpected place- hitherto unseen by light of day

• I:  The Flop •

The flashing neon sign proclaims
From behind the dingy pane
Of a curtained window
By a door to nowhere safe;
With a sign that hangs
Beneath it saying

Open Buy, Table Stakes,
    No Limit Hold’em
Come on in and Play!

And just underneath it
Scratched into the widow,
In an unsettling scrawl,
By a steady hand
With a razor sharp butterfly
Switchblade knife…
It says

“There’s NO LIMIT to WHAT you can WIN”

That does sound tempting
So you do go in
And you’re greeted with a “Hello friend!”
By a bartender standing by himself,
in an empty room,
Cuffs rolled up and forearms wet
polishing glassware and tins with a towel;
One That’s seen too many rims
and broken glasses and spilled drinks,
and blood and tears and ***** sinks
It could NOT be clean,
but “**** it,” you think,
“There Ain’t nobody in here”
And either way, the alcohol is cheap…

“Can I get you something to drink;
maybe a double whiskey, neat
Or Tonic, Lime and gin?
The game already began.
You can head on back, if you want…
They probably only played one hand.”

And he motions to a padded door lit green with red light glowing below from under the jamb.

“Should I get a drink
and play a few?” You think,
“I don’t have much to lose.
And what if …

I win?”

• II..  The Turn •

It’s a gamble, going all in
It’s a big risk to take,
But if it pays off man
You got it made

And the hand looks good,
(it always does)
But this fella’s poker face…
It is uncanny, Man
You cannot read a thing
It’s like he’s made of stone
He don’t ever tell any kinda way…

And this ******* devil always calls.
He plays his hand in every game
Never sits out a round
Throws his money down
Folds his cards, then
Sits back …

… And he waits …

… And every hand he plays,
It seems the game is strange,
In some unexpected way -  
like cards you thought you had
might not be there when you look again
But you can’t remember if, or when, it changed.
It might’ve been you just ******* seen it wrong,
But either way, the ******* card you need
is gone;
And just when you notice-
He’ll look away,
And then back at you,
As if to say,
“I call your bluff kid, turn em up.
Let’s see this hand you played.
What’re you holding
That Made you think
you could win a game
I ******* made.”

• .IİI.   The River •
You’re playing too fast and loose …
         Like you ain’t afraid
But you should be …
         ‘Cause You ****** up
Too Bad the Bet’s Been Made

• IV.:.   The Showdown •

And then He wins
An when He wins
you can’t defend the hand you held
In any way
He takes his chips and stacks em up,
He doesn’t have anything else to say.
He doesn’t gloat, he just
… ******* smiles…
And He watches your face
As you sit and you stare
and you think good and hard
about the mistake that you just made.

“Read ‘em and weep”
It’s his favorite part.
It’s his little art:
Watching a soul
get crushed…

• Epilogue - Wanna Buy Back In? •

Pay More To Play
Than What You Stand To Win
Never pay more to play than what you stand to gain.

I’m very fond of this one, but every time I read it again I feel it’s missing some little bit - just what it is I can’t put my finger on, but it seems like there’s still some part of it out there in the ether.

Does the jump to the endgame seem
Too jarring?

That’s actually where the poem
Originally began. The first draft was just the preface, part “II..” and the epilogue (though obviously worded a bit differently, and unmarred by formalist pedantry). It felt a bit too heavy handed as parable of a gamble with the devil (indeed it was written as such), and After a revision or two for color and rhyme and rhythm, I added part “I:” - which made it feel much more like a story to me, and less like a cliché (at least in my mind) - I guess it’s still a bit cliched if I’m being honest. I wanted a “smash-cut;” that felt almost cinematic. Like a short film, with a small budget trying to get enough story in without wasting time on dealing cards round and round. But it’s that cinematic bent that makes me think it’s missing a 3rd act.

Does “II..” perhaps need to be broken up? It seems like a natural break sits at “you’re playing too fast and loose.” (also, out of curiosity, who do you think that line is attributed too?)

I tried a format with a Numeral marker there but i couldn’t decide on an evolution I liked

For example, I tried:
I: , II.. , .III.
I. , II.. , III…
i.. , ii. , iii
. , : , . :
. , . . , . . .
Nothing seemed right for the third tier.

(A major revision later)
It was  almost too obvious to title chapters after the games turns… anyway. A bit of additional self aware commentary added and now I think the piece is complete… 2/22/24    3:41 am
Sqwishy Jul 2023
You gave me all the pretty words
that I needed to hear,
But they weren't from you
from which I wanted to hear.

I fell into your carefully laid trap,
I fell into the routine - The routine that I needed
Those ******* words that I craved from the
very bottom of my soul,
You took advantage of my vulnerable mind,
And twisted it to what you wanted.

Who was I to believe that you had changed,
You led me to make some bad decisions,
that in the moment I didnt regret,
But now, now I do.

You were nothing but a pretty face that fed
me Lies,
Lies that never had any truth behind them.

You gave me all the pretty words
that I needed to hear,
But they weren't from you
from which I wanted to hear.
Its been a hot minute since i last posted, Hello out there.
Its been a rough ride even still, but im making my way
Slowly but surely.
Elizabeth Kelly Nov 2021
Lord grant me the audacity.

To again be a 23 year old marshmallow
Partying every night at the campfire with a bunch of skewers.

The audacity
To feel outstanding
With an underdeveloped frontal lobe
Floating around in cherry bombs and Stroh’s

To survive being invincible and brave and strong enough to make bold and terrible decisions
And blessedly wake to another sunrise

Never grateful to be alive.
******* *****.
How does anyone survive their early 20s.

Sheer audacity.
Just reminiscing about being a *****. The marshmallow analogy makes me laugh. Early 20s were a blast and many many years later I truly can’t believe I made it through mostly unscathed.
Mrs Anybody Jul 2020
oh papa
forgive me

for the
i secretly
with friends
under bridges

oh mama
forgive me

for the
i drank
when you
told me
not to

oh please
forgive me
for being
a teenager

poor decisions
good memories
also check out my other poems! :)
Délice Apr 2020
we took the wrong turn

in turn, fate turned on us

guess we better turn back

before everything takes a turn
Ironatmosphere Mar 2020
Shouldn't someone be steering this canoe?
I am flailing in the water
tangled up in the stream

Where the hell is the captain?
I yell and I scream
Before realizing the inevitable
the captain
is me
Jay Oct 2019
I begged you to love me,
I got on my knees the first night.
I begged you to love me,
I drank for you.
I begged you to love me,
I lied for you.
I begged you to love me,
I gave you whatever you wanted when you asked.
I begged you to love me,
I walked large distances to see you.
I begged you to love me,
I changed myself for you.
I begged you to love me,
I broke promises for you.
I begged you to love me,
And you never did.
fray narte Oct 2019
she was just another poet
who wrote
late night proses
about smoking
ten cigarettes
in one sitting,
and climbing closed gates
at 1 am
and other bad ideas —
bad ideas
like him.
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