All In

By Aaron Holst

They laugh and holler, groan

at each hand, basement banked in

gray smogs of pipe, cigarette, cigar.

Uncles, Grampa, Aunt Susie, Dad –

table littered with ashtrays, Schlitz

cans and whiskey glasses, faded

blue-backed Bicycles.  I peer at fanned hands,

circle from one to next, just once say,

“Grampa, you got lotsa red ones!”  They

growl and glare, but I stand pat.  Full

house of heroes, survivors of wars and

depressions, jokers wild.

They’d anted up, bet on living,

checked on dying, bluffed,

bumped, would fold when it’s time.

“Some day, boy,” they say, as

I take an empty seat gone broke,

impatient to claim a place, pick up

my hands, declare,

“All in!”

Categories: Issue 3, Vietnam | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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