Three Cards

Through cigar smoke
that could double
as the mists of time
like mountain peaks
the chips rise
(they could stand for time
they could stand for life,
you could cut
the intelligence
with a knife)
in the backroom
of this ghost town
whose ghosts are gone
as the cameras zoom
in and you and I
(drumroll) we play on..

And then some fool
of a former self
bursts into the room:
'I bet you are happy now'
And I look at you
with a look that said
'I'll surgically remove
those cards from your chest
if you do not answer
that question'
And with the arch
of just one eyebrow
you tell me how
no-one, but no-one
could ever believe
the hearts that are on my sleeve

Victim of some duel
that long lost self
exits the room, shouting:
'My name, my name,
I want my name"
'That's life, eh,
you start to explain,
'Winners and losers,
soft touches and bruisers,
this is the same game
you and I play'
But you're just
a narrative device.
'Oh is that right?
if I were you.
from the two of us.
I couldn't tell, "Who's who"

Oh my enemy
I see it is true
you look like me,
and speak like me,
and even as you
pick up from the floor
a sawdust covered jaw
and ask, 'Is this yours?'
I know you know
no more than me
about these games
and their rules
that constantly change
from scene to scene
what any card means

A spade's a spade,
I hold to these words
like they were the beads
of a rosary.
'But you don't believe
what you say is real,
you don't believe
this is what you feel.'
'A spade's a spade'
'That's digging your grave'
'I'll call you.' 'I'll raise you'
'I'll see . . .

'For Christ's sake'
Out of the dry ice
of my former life
the duelling bit-part ham
emerges as the real I am
of the director
'I could be out and about
building my reputation
for excoriating
I could be pursuing
my intensely personal
artistic vision, but
I have to make a living,
right, and you two jokers
are no joke. Look:
one of you loses
one of you wins
and what I want
is the shot
when the penny drops...
that's it . . . perfect!

David R Jones

If you've any comments on this poem, David R Jones would be pleased to hear from you.