The father who slams down his ace

with a nightmare phone call

at three a.m. and shouts:


“Your cousin, Sammy,

has been in a horrible accident,

and you better get down

on your knees and pray,”


still holds all the cards unless the kid

upends the conversation, scatters the chips,

and asks himself:


“Why do I need to get down on my knees

because Sammy, the crazy little bastard,

drives a dairy truck into the side of a bus,

gets himself and his best friend

decapitated by a rack of milk cases?”


and abandons that smoky room

of childhood

before guilt goons drag him

back into the shadows

where shifty demons stack the deck

and the dealer always wins