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Tricia Knoll


You don’t see well any more.

You sometimes forget

names of the four suits.

You compiled your deck

from loose ends at a thrift store,

some backed with blue jays.

Others irises, dizzy diamonds,

Texas vipers, or Utamaro courtesans.

Four Tarot cups cards, an odd

number of jokers and twos

are always wild.

You shuffle well, like a casino

dealer with black-painted nails

and a wristwatch on an alligator band

with hands that jump from one jewel

to another. How slick you riffle

your deck. Your knobby

fingers act dainty.

You win often.

More than probable.

I know you won’t get angry.

I laugh at your jokes. I pick up

your medicines at the pharmacy.

I ask if it’s the wild cards

or do you cheat?

You get that crystal flicker

wide-eye of a man who has

had cataract surgery and who,

I suppose, loves me.

Your hand waves from the blanket

draping your legs to the half-open window—

What’s the use of this

if I can’t play my way?

My deal. My rules.

My magician hands.


Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet. Her work appears widely in journals, anthologies, and five collections. How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House) received the 2018 Human Relations Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Checkered Mates came out in 2021 and Let's Hear It for the Horses (third-place in The Poetry Box chapbook contest) on February 1, 2022. Website:


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