The father who slams down an ace

with a nightmare phone call

at three a.m. and shouts:


“Your cousin has been

in a horrible accident,

and you better get down

on your knees and pray,”


still holds all the cards unless the son

upends the conversation,

scatters the chips and asks himself:


“Why do I need to get down on my knees

because the crazy little bastard

missed a curve and flew off a cliff?”


and abandons that smoky room

before guilt goons drag him

back into the shadows

where shifty demons stack the deck

and the dealer in the attic always wins