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,