A Gamble, Love


A Gamble, Love

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,
my lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand
to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss–
————–William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.


“The cards–they turned against me, baby–
though every single one I played for you–
‘cause you deserve the best–you, my best lady–
the best a man could have, and that’s for true.”

He bends to kiss my belly with near beard,
shuffling belly, beard and smooth and rough so well,
a warmth is dealt that pays no mind to word,
a heat of coupled past, skin-wanded spell–

and the heap of ash–my heart an hour before,
waiting, stirs as with sharp sticks or flinted stones
as stubble apes a spark—”Not like that whore,
damned queen. I would have had a flush–” he groans–

“You lost it all?” My whisper asks his hair.
Lips to nipple, his reply.  ”All?” I ask
again, voice lower. His fingers mouth despair
and slow.  And, as head lifts, cold finds a path,

a gap between the rise of his chest, chin,
a gulf between my breasts, and seeps to where
hips join, a lunar plexus of thin
chill–“I had great hands,” he says; I stare.


This is both a kind of draft poem and completely fictional!  Ha!  But I was thinking of Kerry O’ Connor’s wonderful prompt on With Real Toads that quoted Shakespeare –”love is a tender thing”–from Romeo and Juliet- and asked for poems on a varied theme of love and enmity.  I thought of these other lines from Romeo and Juliet, which led to a different idea of a hand.   The poem has so many odd breaks, I feel like I should do a reading to make the sound clearer, but life will not make that possible today.  One thing, in my poetry, breaks are only intended to be taken where punctuated–i.e. by a comma or period–and not at the end of a line–  Thanks!   Have a great weekend and Valentine’s Day–


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15 Comments on “A Gamble, Love”

  1. Mama Zen Says:

    This is so good! Marvelous writing, K.

  2. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This reads as smooth as silk, Karin… wickedly deceptive and a very passionate hand indeed.

  3. This is just wonderful to read……..love the meter and the tale told. Just so good.

  4. jazzbumpa Says:

    love is always a gamble
    this guy’s a wild card
    probably a joker


  5. It read well to me, K!! Loved it!

  6. hedgewitch Says:

    Love is always a gamble I suppose, and makes gamblers of all lovers–at least that sounds Shakespearean–here I get the cold chill that comes when you discover the lover is truly other–and you will never ever understand them–or so I read–agree with everyone else who says this reads smoothly, almost sonnet-like with the abab rhyme very unforced. Love your tags.

  7. Loved, loved this k–we play the hands we have and hope sometimes–sometimes not–

  8. The double play on those “great hands” is the neat trick of this poem–and then that lover’s stare: Love as a poker game.

  9. Susan Chast Says:

    O! and if he lost his hands how fulfill he his promise of breath and proximity? It may be that the cold chill is there to stay, though I hope it was just his money and not his extremities. Great hands, indeed! I love reading this! Read it twice and may again simply for the fun of it.

  10. Love is definitely a gamble. Fantastic piece!

  11. I love that roghness of the cardplayer’s hand and beard and the tender nakedness. To view love as gambling works so well, and alas is often very close to truth.

  12. Brendan Says:

    Great verse tale! Shakespeare’s sonnets are such wonderful glosses on love’s torment, and you weave it here as tactile as the opening quote — rough beard, smooth belly — as the greater abrasion of gambler and lover (and leaving us to wonder which is which).

  13. margaret Says:

    …sounds like she might have to discard a joker or two and try her hand at another love?

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