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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
Serendipity Sep 2023
Devil's roll the dice,
playing a card game meant for three
I sit a cross from them
playing cards, idly.

When asked why I lay in Hell,
I pause and stare at thee,
and ask you back
"Where else can I lie?
trying to imbibe,
the devil's game
is where I want to be."
I think Devils roll the Dice is apart of a Taylor Swift song I heard, credit to whoever came up with the line.
Marya123 Mar 2022
The whole world's playing a game of poker
And I'm dealt a strange, confusing hand
I don't want to be mediocre,
I make rash moves, which were never planned
Inevitable, I fail each test,
To start over, again and again
So I'll keep my cards close to my chest
Hoping that this time, it won't be in vain.
Amanda Kay Burke Sep 2021
What is expected from me?
You were the half that chose to leave
I'll do my best
Be your friend
Even if leading to another dead end
Never thought we would wash up where we are
Two separate shores
Watching you from afar
Be truthful with me
That is what I most desire
Sick of the games
Fake way through a familiar apology
Promising to be the man I know you'll never be
Like a rolling dice
Have many faces
Expert at bluffing yet you're always holding aces
You gamble my love
About time you lose
My heart not an object to pull apart or use
I'm sick of betting my chips
The poorest hand
For you I go all-in
Don't even understand
I never was good at cards
At least that is what I'm told
Probably should cut my losses
Say farewell and finally fold
But what can I say? I guess I'm just a gambling type of girl...
Nat Lipstadt Apr 2021
Ah you hate to see another tired man / Lay down his hand / Like he was giving up the holy game of poker
Leonard Cohen
Will I remain within God's house at night as shadows drift through dimming my light?
written by Weeping Willow, gifted to me, by Edmund Black

in­stant understanding, perhaps in my experiential possess,
some answerings perhaps...product of late night, many, many
theological arguments over poker games, with coarse men,
tough women, and ethically-challenged Gods, all faithful regular attendees

With a little bit o’ luck from an occasional guardian angel, even
I possess an occasional winning hand.

now we all commence with a passionate uttered blessing,
for the good beer and salty pretzels, giving thanks for having
reached this act-exact moment of being, here and now, in God’s house at night, plus a holy add-on variation, a swear-to-god (we all snicker) promise solemn, no cheating, no absolutely divine peeking/spying in soulful futures, no fun in that, sanctified & sealed with hearty amens and ****** noises offered for emphasis.

hear you scratching you head, wondering what all this to do
with a whispered prayer of soulful, on-shore drilling deep,
product of a drill bit cutting the black quietude of interstellar voids internal, where there is no censorship, lying an impossibility, and the only questions are super hard, so some never return with an answer truthful

so, I remain in God’s House, playing poker, with deities who
jealous guard their moments as human facsimiles...cherishing humans who guard with care, an ability to see that they and gods differ little, when making honest truth a shared primacy

in the intimacy
of an overnight stay
in God’s house at night,
all our coming-led light dims,
when my/their need is greatest

(written sometime this year, Jan. 2021, Manhattan)


^^ Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the
Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and
enabled us to reach this occasion.
some say this building had issues with the temperature anyway
but most would agree
this heat was not brought on by the typical Houston air
he walks in to the beat of the trickling chips around him
heads turn for the new, the old already know how it goes down

some get up before he sits
only to make sure their pocket linings stay
the sweat on their forehead tells it all
who has the nerve to face the boy?

an hour in of back and forth
eyes only on him as he moves
their mouths ajar, he bets all in without a flinch
the atmosphere is flipped within a card
an uproar of "shocked but not surprised" flows through the room

as he leaves with money in one hand, and all the cheers in the other
the room falls silent faster than the door can close
just with one phrase that slips through the crack
"the boy is in rare form tonight"
was broke this year so I wrote poems for my family. this is for my brother. it was probably the hardest to write cause idk **** about poker. may go back and edit, so this is kind of a draft.
Traveler Oct 2020
The King with the axe
And the Suicide Jack
Are always worth a wild
Doubled down
Take a hit
And always wear
A smile
Snake eye roll
Crows eye view
Luck is a lady
Me and you
And the devil too

Now deal those cards!
Traveler Tim
That Girl Sep 2020
She got dealt a bad hand in life.
But she didn’t fold.
She kept playing.
She didn’t walk away from the table,
And leave the casino like she should have.
She keeps playing the hand life dealt her.
And she’s slowly going into debt.
Deeper in the game until one day she won’t be able to play anymore.
She’ll be out of money.
Out of cards.
I just pray it doesn’t come to that.
I want her to fold.
Leave the table.
Leave that lifestyle behind her.
Count her losses and move on with her life.
There’s more to life than that hand that life dealt her.
I just wish she could sober up long enough to see it.
I just wish she could see that there’s so much more to life than the hand that she was dealt.
Whitavius May 2020
... If my relationship was a game of cards...

Five cards hit the table
Right there in front of me
Like fortunes' greatest table
The game of the century!

She's my Lady-Luck incarnate
Its all Aces with her
Companion, Lover, and Mate
Together, our fate to master.

Though when we met
None of this was planned
Now its an all-in bet
And she's my winning hand!
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