Playing Cards

Poem By Charlotte Ballard

I don't have much
That I can claim-
Just an old brush
With half the bristles gone,
A toothbrush, a clean shirt or two.
One jar of soap given, I think
As a present
Two Christmases ago
By some women's group
That brought fruity punch-
Not the beer we'd asked for.

I could all fit it
In a child's shoe box, this big,
I'd guess and, oh yes,
My playing cards
A blue rider deck
With a few edges bent back.
I stuck my cards
Down deep in my pants when Charley
Wouldn't stop. He pleaded softly
With fish-cold eyes and quivering lip.
Relenting, I let him
Play, stupid fool
Bent the deck again.

Best friends, they are
The cards I mean,
They talk to me at night.
Mostly the Red Queen of Hearts begs
Me please, keep the Black King spades
Away from my petticoats, he
Rapes me nightly,
Under the cover of the Red Ten Heart.
Her children weep
And I can't stand their wails.
So I took the Black King Spade
And burned him good-
One night just as he had
Lifted her skirts and peeked beneath.
He wiggled and screamed before
He vanished in the blacken smoke.

Charlie and me
Still play Hearts and Spades
With one card short.
But Charlie doesn't seem
To mind. But still I yell
As he bends the edges
To keep his place, I suspect,
But the cards groan as I retrieve the
Deck and the wailing
Has begun again.

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To Emily Dickinson

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Watch for the one that comes in the night
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Spring up on barren ground,
He rides a charging steed.


Taps are being played
In the middle of me
To say good-bye
To that part that