The Fickle Hand of Fate

How fickle fate doles out its random hand,
the faces of the cards down on the felt
unknown and spiteful of the best laid plans,
now little use once your lot has been dealt!

You work against the odds to make your play,
and with each round invest a greater sum;
with hope your only ally on the way,
an oracle who seems both deaf and dumb.

And then, by clever sleight or seeming chance,
a single card remains to seal your fate;
time slows each movement to a sluggish dance
as you see first a glimmer, then, too late,

a final pip is thrown to fill your hand,
destroying in an instant what wild dreams
of avarice you held. You understand
how fate works at that moment; and it seems

a bitter pill to swallow that such things
should be permitted by a loving God,
who gave the pendulum its cause to swing
and yet refused it any path but sod.

15 FEB 2006

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