A Structure Built Out of Playing Cards Precariously Balanced Together

by Lily Jezador Hudson
(Mississippi)

I live in a house of cards
with a foundation made of diamonds and super glue,
my room is composed of spades.

it doesn't rain here,
but if it did,
I wonder if our house would grow soggy and wash away,
our never ending game of war swimming in the gutters.

our secrets are so flimsily concealed,
hidden under jokers,
under kings and queens,
under their sons –
all named jack.

as I grow older,
the amount of super glue needed to hold us together increases tenfold.
someone will soon slip through the cracks,
escaping a world where we eat blackjack for dinner.

we rarely let anyone inside,
afraid that the wall of hearts will whisper tales of sorrow and dysfunction,
afraid that newcomers will make it easier for our house to collapse,
small piles of cards unplayed becoming memories of the past.

occasionally, we invite other people in,
“come sit at our round table,
roll the dice –
if you win,
you can go home with daddy's money.
bet on any number.
if you win,
we'll let you come back –
for free!
come join us in a game of Texas hold 'em.
if you win,
we'll tell you what the walls are holding!”

I live in a house of cards
lovingly put together,
every outlet of light hidden by something less than face value,
and it isn't about our foundation anymore.
it's about how each floor has no windows,
how each ace is a door to a dark room.

maybe it has never been about our foundation –
though the groundwork has never been very strong.

who knew how many truths could be revealed with a gamble?
who knew how many poker chips it would take to keep our house standing?
who knew how many losses it would take for it all to come crumbling down,
fifty two reasons not to build a house of cards scattered across the table.

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