Casino Poem

Four suits in a pack of cards –
tell me, which one will you choose?
Cut the deck like a bale of cloth, select your trumpery.
Will it be the scarlets of passion, of the carnal?
Or the darker shades of guile and subterfuge?

Are you a swordsman, draped in the silk and swagger
of Spades, with moonlight hung in ribbons
from the whetted blade you carry at your side?
Or do you prefer the coarser homespun
of the Queen of Clubs? The wand, the cape,
a ravening knowledge of the powers of Earth ...

The dealer dimples prettily from across the baize,
proffers the pack. “Or something more bespoke?”
she says. “More Saville Row?
The brash of Diamonds in a suit as sharp
as the deals you cut or the shares you short?”
“Oh no,” I say, “for me, it’s Love or not at all.
For me it’s Hearts.” And,

“Oh, my punch-drunk Romeo,” she coos,
“consider the blows that Love will land:
the jiltings, and the cuckold’s horns,
the breaking-up by text,
the doormat after-life of lust that’s spent.”

“It’s Hearts,” I say, “or not at all.”
“Then cut!” she says. I do.

And grinning upwards from the pack
in slack-jawed merriment, his motley
spittle-flecked I spy The Fool.
“Well, there’s a thing,” cries Lady Luck.
She gathers up her bustle and the cards and makes to leave.
“It’s strange,” she says. “I always count the pack.
I’m sure I counted fifty-two.
That’s quite a talent you must have!”

Four suits in a pack of cards - tell me, which one
will you choose? Four suits in a pack of cards –
and in their midst a Fool.