Lessons in the Cards

While my father was teaching me the cold 
calculus of chance, the shuffling dance 
of probability in the mathematics of poker,
I was learning the symbols of love and wealth,
of war and death, discovering myself 
in the joker and the one-eyed jack of hearts. 

While he was teaching me percentages, 
how the odds shift as the cards fall, 
I was learning bluff and bluster, sleight 
of hand, and how to slip an ace
from the bottom of the deck when
I had nothing else upon which to call.

My father taught me well, though
I didn’t always learn what he wanted 
me to learn. He taught me to play the game 
with skill, while I wanted to know— not
how to win but how simply to live— and, finally, 
how to stop playing the game at all.

kenzimmerman 2022

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