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You’re bound to lose: the house will always win,
in time. At first, though, Fortune flatters those
who yield to her enticements. You begin
with bits of luck, small stakes. If you propose

a higher sum, she’ll play her violin,
flash gold-flecked eyes, throw you a long-stemmed rose.
When bets get high, she kicks you in the shin,
quite hard. You’re stunned, offended, in the throes

of ire and shame. You should have known, you think:
the wheel’s (discreetly) weighted on her side,
not yours. You kick yourself; your spirits sink,
along with your reserves of cash and pride.

But look: she’s left a gift, a length of rope,
the last recourse, or gambler’s horoscope.

—Catharine Savage Brosman

Image by Jalil Shams licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.