Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

The Dice-Player

Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

The Dice-Player

Article excerpt

I've had my nose in the ring since I was nine.

I learned those cubes fast: how to play a blind

bargain; how to empty a die from my palm

and beguile by turns loaded with prayers--

then sleight-of-hand. Ten or fifteen years

and you get wrists like a tabla-player's, jaws

cut and edged by the knuckles and customs

of luck and deception. The fils in sham,

in subterfuge, in the eyes smoking out

an opponent's call. I let my thumb stalk

each die, get to know which edge might

damage probability's well-worn curves.

See, all dice are cut on the teeth of thugs,

liars and raconteurs. I've concocted calls

those dealing in risk and perfidy, bluff or

perjury, would envy. But I've never stolen

or coveted dice fashioned from agate

or amber, slate or jasper, or from

the perfumed peach stones of distant shores.

Some think fortunes will be won with dice

made from the regurgitated pellets of owls;

or from the guano of seabirds that ride only

the loftiest thermals. …

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