In the Poker Room – Liz Ahl

As the player behind me finally,
reluctantly, after much chip-fondling
and card shuffling, after re-doing all the math,
after asking for a chip count he doesn’t need,
folds on the river, doubt washing him
brow to shoulder in its tepid brine,
I wonder as always which is worse:
playing poorly the great cards you’ve been given
or playing them well, exactly correctly,
and losing anyhow to whatever twitches
and tricks, whatever noises and intuitions
and accidents of a thousand small moves
conspire together to plunk luck,
like just another hundred-dollar chip,
onto the laden felt. Is it worse
for the random universe to conspire
against your smarts and certainties, or
to see how it was only always you to blame,
your dumb tell or your poorly-timed bluff,
your squandering of the undeserved chance
to do this one thing right?

Liz Ahl lives in New Hampshire. Her most recent chapbook, Talking About the Weather, was published in 2012 by Seven Kitchens Press. Her second chapbook, Luck (Pecan Grove, 2010) received the New Hampshire Literary Awards “Reader’s Choice” in Poetry Award in 2011, and her first chapbook, A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, won the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Bloom, Measure, Pea River Journal, and Tidal Basin Review. She has been awarded residencies at Jentel, Playa, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center.

3 thoughts on “In the Poker Room – Liz Ahl

  1. Pingback: BULL PEN: 25 JANUARY 2016 The Blizzard Edition – Bull City Press

  2. Pingback: March 2016 faculty and student scholarship, awards, service activities, news, and updates for Academic Affairs offices and departments | Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs - Plymouth State University

  3. Pingback: Recent Publications | Liz Ahl

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