Stakes

That smiling gods
Should deal in odds
Was strange to me.
But who were we
To put it down,
The only game,
It seemed, in town?
And having been
So suddenly
Invited in
And told, as suddenly,
"Begin,"
We spread our pennies
On the felt
And waited as the
Cards were dealt.
Though innocent,
We weren't fools.
Any child
Could learn the rules.
In several hands
One understands
(Or thinks he does)
A game of chance.
A timid, "Fold,"
A braver, "Call,"
A little pluck,
It's luck. That's all.
What's it about?
There's little doubt.
You win; you lose;
It evens out.
But hereafter
(After Reno)
What follows from
This Grand Casino?
One somehow
Never comprehends
About the gods
It's not just odds,
It's odds and ends.
Meantime so many
Games to play,
So many games of
"Come what may,"
We play our fill
And never think of
"Come what will."
Come place your bet,
Craps, poker,
Twenty-one, roulette.
"Come, baby, come!"
Till all amazed,
The stakes are raised *
... O, heart!! ...
And driven home.

          * Yes, I know, in the "stakes" pun, we're the vampires. We're the ones,
          like the undead, who look to live forever. The abrupt metaphor shift
          from casino to vampire is the shock of finding mortality means us,
          the "smiling gods" suddenly not dealers, but stake drivers. Yeah, I hate
          poems that have to be explained too. Blame my family.