A Christmas Eve Poker Game
Michael D. Armstrong
'Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the house,
not a card player was stirring, not even the spouse.
The cigars and the chips were on the table with cheer,
the cupboards were emptied of pretzels and beer.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Mario Bros danced in their heads.
I'd called all the guys and checked every name,
but old Sol and I settled for a one-handed game.
When out on the street there arose such a noise,
I thought in a flash it was some of the boys.
Away to the entry, I tore open the door!
I was anxious to play, couldn't wait anymore.
The halogen light, with its intensive glare,
gave the luster of midday to objects out there.
When what to my wondering eyes should bechance,
but a great big Suburban with six occupants,
and a sinister driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Old Nick.
More eager than eagles his players they came,
he whistled and winked and called them by name.
"Now Della, you dancer! Now Lisa, you vixen!
On Karla, you prancer! On Tasha! On Trixen!
To the top of the porch, to the end of the hall.
Now play away! Play away! Play away all!"
As dry lawns that need the autumn rains first,
they looked at the beer with an Amazon's thirst.
So up to the table his gorgeous shills went,
with purses of money all waiting to be spent.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the room,
Old Mister Nick laugh like the crack of doom.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
up to the table Old Nick came with a bound.
He was dressed all in leather from his head to his foot,
his clothes all tarnished with cinders and soot.
A huge bundle of cash he took from his pack;
he looked like a gambler while filling his rack.
His eyes, how they sparked though hard to remember;
his cheeks were like ashes, his nose like an ember.
White as the snow was the beard on his chin;
his sharp chiseled features drawn up in a grin.
The stump of a stogie he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a lean face, and fingers all bony
that shook not a whit; this was no phony.
He had a black hat and a visage like steel,
with a grim, dark aura that a person could feel.
As he sat 'cross the table I felt like a sinner,
I nervously laughed just like a beginner.
A wink of his eye and a glance at his shills
filled me with dread and gave me the chills.
He spoke not a word, fanned the cards in his palm;
each bet that he made dropped like a bomb.
The action was heavy, the game was a rout.
Before long he had easily cleaned me out.
He walked to his wagon, to his shills gave a whistle;
and away they all blew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
"Ho! Ho! Ho! See you, sucker, a week from tonight."