Two Poems

by Joe Gianotti

Seven Card Stud

I paid your way in,
$400 to ante up,
and we each collected our street.
Two down across the table,
ten red backs decorated
with Sanger and Guttmacher
in varying up/down positions.
You echoed the call of the first round,
and drew your next three,
faces up,
all eyes on you.
A Creeley of clubs
and two Doves of diamonds,
a cutthroat hand in most games,
but I drew three Halls of hearts.
You had no tell.
You raised the table,
and one by one,
players folded in defeat.
But I stayed, awaited my final cards.
In the end, you thrust all your chips forward,
and I called you and your pair
and the bluff you held together
with the thumb of your right hand
and the bottom of your index finger,
and I raked your gamble toward me,
a huge pot to last a lifetime,
your ace in the hole gone forever.

Unemployment Line

A frozen February morning.
It must have been a Saturday
because I went with her.
She left me in the Mercury
but kept it running.
I could see her in
the driver’s side mirror,
but I craned my neck, too.
A line, mostly single filed white males.
Winter jackets from high end stores,
worn to the knees,
hoods over their heads.
Their cold breath mixed
with their exhaled cigarette smoke.
The line flowed out
of the glass building and
into the parking lot where
I waited for future fights on the playground
and below average marks in math class.
The feet shuffled forward, without volition.

After a long time,
she returned with her envelope,
paltry yellow check
peeking through its window.
Her humbled silence scared me
more than any curse cast my way.
Hardened, she drove us home,
and she never let me see
even a solitary tear
roll down her steely cheek.


Joe Gianotti grew up in Whiting, Indiana, an industrial city five minutes from Chicago. He currently teaches English at Lowell High School.  He is a proud contributor to Volume II of This is Poetry: The Midwest Poets. Among other poets, he represented Northwest Indiana in the 2014 Five Corners Poetry Readings. His work has been published in Blotterature, The Chaffey Review, Mouse Tales, Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, This, Yes Poetry, and other places.   You can follow him on Twitter at @jgianotti10.
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