I glare at the men, faces locked in. Concentrating, manipulating my play. Do I rue the day that I sat down, stopped acting the clown and decided to have my say?
I don’t and I won’t, so I frown, study the cards I was dealt, shuffle them about and make a new order, as I throw in my chips and cross over the border.
A risk? A flick of the wrist is all that it takes and then let us see what makes a winner. Is it a sinner? someone thinner with better hair, or nicer clothes, striking the pose of success? But wait. Pause. Let us undress the facts, layer by layer. Com’on player you’re in the game now, retract the claws, no need for spite, we’re all here to fight, though probably not for a similar cause.
Aces are high, the ones with faces too, but oh how they lie! For they can be trumped by a small black heart, ripped apart by a couple of diamonds, as long as the suits have their say –you can be sure that they’ll get in the way.
But what will I risk? What is my fear that brings me here, the things that I do not wish to lose. Being alone? Feeling my heart sieve through my knees at the buzz of a disconnected phone? Seeing that time can’t freeze as those that I love become headstones?
Do I risk, trying or not trying? Rebelling? Complying? Feeling the cold night air stare through the glass, desperate to show what’s out there, as I close my drapes, find an escape in the bottom of a bottle. Have I lost mine? Satisfied in being fine, being average in class, bad at games so refusing to participate, letting my fate find its own way, not knowing myself so refusing to say. Lips shut tight cementing the right to speak out, for fear that if I shout, I’ll have no idea what I’m shouting about.
Do I risk; the smell of danger wrapped up in a stranger? A new love against all odds, when I know that its sods law that rules, that breaks us to soon, leaves me raw, pressed into the floor, a deflated balloon, a glass eyed creature that screams to the moon.
A high straight –it’s full of promise, and I am both these things, could it be that I can win? Or is my judgement clouded, shrouded in the things I consume, so there is no room to know.
What is real is sealed in a cage beyond my grip, so I let it slip into the corners, and it will wait there with a woeful stare hoping one day I will learn, that one day I will return.
Do I risk death? My last breath? Can death be a risk when it happens to every creature that breathes, that breath will leave, then what will I be, but a shadow-less mark, a soul in the dark. Or, will I stamp, and imprint the land, show that it was my hand that created words that were heard, that people wanted to hear, that provoked a tear, or a laugh, a warm feeling inside that proved that I tried, and won?
Or will I stay? Turn my back, lose track in a crowded room, where gauzy lights seep through the gloom. A stringed puppet with broken dance, refusing to take a chance, on a translucent leash that imitates freedom, in the words of a song that speak to me, that make them seem real when they are not mine, but someone else’s tale, someone else’s rhyme. I just need a sign, for they only signify the fat lie that swells in my head, and makes me want to remain in bed.
Will I risk, no botox, or mismatched socks, of letting time create laughter lines that tell my story, the wrinkles that creep in all their glory that show, that will let the world know, that mine was good, that I laughed a lot, that I danced with feet that were loose, and creases in the pleats of my skirt, had the good sense to get hurt and embrace it, face it, and learn from it not waste it. Not let life fly by in haste but taste it, feel it drip on my lip, on the tip of my tongue, then dive right into the rivers, get shivers. Not crawl beneath its surface were currents are weak but ride on its peak, seek what it is that will save me. Fly high on the crest of a wave, and be brave as it forks out and swells, speeds up, crashes me about, and pushes me into an ocean. Or when it turns back on itself and time goes in slow motion, not to pass out in a whirlpool of self doubt, but instead to enjoy the commotion.
Take an axe to this wall around me, and grin with delight as chips of wood splinter the fright and let the light start to prickle all that is fickle, burn it up in a blaze, evaporate the haze, guide me through the maze and make me see; that taking a chance is worth it, that to be scared, to be dared, to play the game, run the risk, seek the fame and look, for the bright light that winks through the night is on the horizon.
Keep your eyes on its brink, for the winning hand is closer than you think.