The Gambler

Orpheus descending,
He knows the chips are down,
But all the same the gambler can’t resist another round.
Madness never ending,
He antes to the pot,
This man is never satisfied until he’s done the lot.

Once he was a winner,
He had a home and car,
And spent the winter evenings with his children by the fire,
Now he is a sinner,
To them and to his wife,
For throwing away everything they’d worked for in this life.

Now the deal is over,
He needs to draw an eight,
Just two of these left in the pack with which to fill a straight.
Four pieces of clover
Are showing to his right,
He knows he’s beaten, but still calls, now the end is in sight.

The black man shows his hole card,
And gives a knowing grin,
The gambler tries to smile back, but his mask is wearing thin.
The game has been long and hard,
The pain shows in his face,
And all he wants now is to get the hell out of this place.

No money in his jacket,
He’s blown it all again,
He hasn’t eaten, so he’ll walk home hungry in the rain.
Tonight he’s lost a packet,
But he’ll go on and on,
He’ll keep returning till the day his final cent is gone.

He makes it to his bedsit,
And in the dark alone,
He thinks of all the things he’s lost: friends, family and home.
And then with his desk lamp lit,
He studies his account,
His savings now are almost gone, but debts and bills still mount.

Orpheus descending:
It’s nearly over now,
A look of tranquillity has appeared upon his brow,
At last the nightmare’s ending,
He won’t lose anymore,
He lies motionless on the bed,
The counterpane is damp and red,
His fingers part, the knife drops to the floor.


magazing five was published in February 1986; editor and publisher Chris Mitchell included Futility, City Kid, The Gambler and Creep - in that order - in this A5 format publication. Shortly, Jenny Chaplin of Writers’ Rostrum published City Kid and The Gambler in A Purpose Strong And Bright, and later in the year I published Creep and Futility in We’re Coming For Your Telecom Shares. The first link below leads to a PDF scan of the original. It includes the front cover, inside front cover (contents page) and all four poems. The pages of this publication are unnumbered.

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