three of a kind
or a run of one suit;
i like hearts, he likes the sixes.
the king is dead, long live the king!
he used to say.
also, praise the lord and pass the ammunition!
i used to like to play gin rummy with my dad,
right up until the day i caught him pulling cards
out of his left sleeve.
and finding four more cards up the right sleeve,
i was righteously aggrieved.
i can’t believe
you were trying to cheat a 10-year-old! i said.
we were sitting at the dining room table.
the white table cloth was coffee stained
and ashes overflowed the abalone ashtray.
smoke hung in the air like it did
when everyone smoked indoors
and the sliding glass door was too fingerprinted
to fool any crow who could’ve crashed our card party.
he said, cheating is part of the game, baby,
i’m just trying to teach you the ways of the world!
let me impart my vast wisdom before i pass on, baby,
it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught, he said.
but i was too hyper-calla-moralistic to receive it,
to this day, i pray to an atrocious god,
stabbing with verses in the dark,
leaving karma to attend to revenge,
i quit playing card games with the cheater.
takin’ the moral high ground at the tender age of ten.
Game Over, Dad. i win.
i wanted him to–
half-expected him to–
let me win.
and, in his own way, he did.
i still recall the feeling of utter disbelief,
how the flower lost its chlorophyll
and story lost its moral.
my first recollected moment of an awareness of cognitive dissonance.
my dad is now dead. long live my cheatin-death dad.
(c)2014, victoria h.