Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 NaPoMo Haiku/Senryu (and other poems)

Well kids, it's that time of the year again wherein your intrepid hero attempts to navigate the roiling and treacherous waters of inspiration with his flimsy poetic craft. This year unlike others, we come into the month with a great deal of momentum, although sans our former muse who now merely glowers when she deigns to glance in our direction at all. But the Show must go on and write we will even if it is without the buoyant mania that once propelled our craft. We are tied to no line except that one which anchors us nightly. Our goal is the distant city of Haijin many miles downstream. How far, you ask? Who knows. The point is to get closer. We will enjoy the process of the ride rather than sweat the arrival. We must make at least thirty stops along the way, a haiku or senryu for each day, although they will likely swirl in eddies and waves as opposed to a continuous flow. By the end of the month I would also like to have written at least seven haiku in Kriolu, last month I wrote my first two, which leaves me five to go. We begin though in English;

Whitney's voice
from a passing car-
An old receipt

Fresh blueberries
falling into
Chucky's laughter

of the barren volcano-
Nunny's stare

Crushed pumice
blackens the beach
Grandfather's temper

She thanks me
for no reason-
Thawing ice

Ninety eight
reasons to come out-
Sports Illustrated

Crescent moon
peeling the yellow
midnight banana

over a comma-
Quarter Moon

April swirls
Bobbing in the white waves
a little buoy

Sound of Evening rain-
The apple trees' branches
against the window

Clouds drifting-
Just before just after
goodbye kiss

Crack of thunder-
All the neighborhood cars

This tongue
between moist lips-
Sealed envelope

A scar
below her right breast-
The Milky Way

Mountain Laurel blooms-
Flickering deep in Penn's Woods
a single candle

her tongue warms
my nipple

Low fog-
A Mourning Dove's
high coo

Above the hum
of the power line-

Vaguely threatening
The man in the red pickup
afternoon sky

Golf ball
semi-lodged in sand-
Half moon

Chilly afternoon-
I turn up the flame under
a pot of greens

Storm clouds-
Branches of this lone tree

All in-
My stack suddenly

Thanksgiving Night-
Wild Turkey in a

Fiftieth birthday-
Looking up a word
I used to know

Marsh reeds sprout
through sidewalk asphalt-
Her reluctant smile

At the corner
A boy with his pants sagging-
Half moon

Hair bun bobbing
she slowly disappears-
Setting sun

Adjusting the hat
then readjusting it-
Cool breeze

Plink plink
a shuffling of poker chips-

April first- 
The waitress' fingernails 
are ivy green

First of April-
Maybe this cute cashier 
has no boyfriend

Spring lonliness- 
The wind pushes an empty 
box of Newports

April puddles-
Even this atheist
must take a leap

Starless night-
Almost forty ounces
of emptiness

Autumn breeze-
Brushing what's left
of my hair

Early April sky-
Even a seventeen bar
Blues isn't this gray

First kiss
after making up-
Sheet lightning

Monday Morning-
Even my reality checks 
are bouncing

Apparently I
didn't catch her drift-
Leaves swirling

I find everything
except love

April Fools Day-
At least the puppy knows
he's chasing his tail

Cracked nail 
on my left big toe- 
Sliver of moon

The homeless man
staring into the window-

As part of output this month I'm going to try to get this haiku translated into French, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese (those being the primary languages of the West African Slave Trade);

Only sunlight
passes in both directions-
Door of No Return

Só os raios do sol
passam nas duas direcções-
Porta sem retorno

(Portuguese translation by R. Erica Doyle)

Ne passe que lumière
dans les deux sens –
Porte du voyage sans retour

(French translation by Christine Lux)

Anyone with expertise in translating to those languages or in writing haiku in those languages can feel free to comment or add input.

So far, the only regular poem I've written this month is this fun one I came up with for Jericho Brown's birthday;

I placed a candle
upon a cake from New Orleans
And Please it was, upon a plate.
It made the nervous words
Surround that cake.

The alphabet rose up to it,
And curled around, no longer ordered.
The candle was Please upon the cake
And of a shimmer in wick.

It took desire everywhere.
The cake was chocolate and Please!
It did not give of fork or knife,
Like nothing else from New Orleans.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Getting Lucky

Every once in a while in AC you hear stories about people getting lucky. Some of them are so incredible you think the people have to be lying. Like my buddy RF, who woke up this Thursday at 9 am with $1 to his name and no gas in his tank. He lives up north in Jersey and he wasn't even sure he'd have the tolls to get home. I saw him at breakfast where he'd just finished using up the last of his comps at the Borgata to eat. I would have helped him out, but I was busted too, although not in as bad a shape as him. Then his phone rings and its his boy E from back home. He started not to answer
because E is always calling to borrow money and he had none to lend. But he picked up anyway and sure enough E was looking to come down to AC but was short a few bucks. But the something odd happened, when RF told him he was busted, E decided not to come down and then offered RF what little money he had. RF told me that in twenty years E had never done such a thing. E deposited the $40 in an account and since it wasn't enough to play poker RF decided to bet the horses. He bets a few races and then put $18 on a Trifecta that comes in for $14, so he wins 9x $14 which is $126. Just enough to buy in to a 1/2 No Limit game. RF is a patient winning poker player so he sets about grinding only he runs second best and soon is down to $30. He gets All In and triples up and soon thereafter runs it up to $250. He's thinking about locking up his win when he's dealt JJ and calls a small raise. The Flop comes ten high and the raiser bets $50, RF moves in for $178 more. The raiser leans back, ponders and then shows RF two queens. He mentions that RF hasn't played many hands and then mucks his hand. RF takes down a nice pot and breathes a sigh of relief because the guy had him crushed. He gets a losing hand, but is lucky enough to get it against the one guy who woud fold a better hand. Well to make a long story even longer, he runs his stack up to over $800. He picks up and call it a day. From $1 to over $800 in half a day and when he really needed it. I got lucky that day too, but not so much in poker, although I won a little there also. I got a second haiku accepted for publication, then found out that NPR was taking a different one for their Twitter Poetry contest they do every National Poetry Month. In fact, mine was the very first one they accepted this year. I discovered that Twitter now takes line breaks which means no more need for slashes to indicate line breaks. To celebrate I wrote this poem which somehow turned out pretty good ;

Ars Poetica

I am broken
open by
the random
of her

I was just screwing around and got lucky, but things got even better. I had decided to try to write some haiku in Kriolu, the Portuguese Creole language spoken in Cape Verde and my goal was to try to scratch out seven haiku. I searched the Web high and low for some examples, but couldn't find any. If anyone is writing haiku in Kriolu, they're keeping it hidden. The idea of being the first one to do it was pretty exciting even though I knew I might not be first, just the first to put them in the Web. So I started and lo and behold if I didn't somehow manage to get insanely lucky. The very first one I wrote turned out decent!!

Cigaru sem fumo
na beixu di homi-
Vulcão na Fogo.

unlit on a man lips-
Volcano on Fogo.

Not bad at all, but then it got even better!! I wrote this joint in English with a Cape Verdean theme;

Cigarette smoke
drifting across a stage-
Cesaria's voice.

I was on a roll!! I then squeezed out several more about my grandparents including these two;

With her sisters
Nunny speaks Kriolu-
Sudden sunbeams.

From the big toolbox
I select the correct wrench-
My Grandfather's smile.

Nunny is my grandmother, of course. The second one is pretty good if I don't say so myself, maybe one of the best Senryu I've written. And just when it seemed Things couldn't get any better I hit a miracle card on the river in the form of this Kriolu haiku;

de Cabo Verde-
Quel ventu seku.

for Cape Verde-
This dry wind.

That might be the best haiku I've ever written, it would take me a long time to explain it, but when I posted it on Facebook, my cousin Tor commented in Kriolu "Perfeito!!" Perfect! On the one hand I'm super happy, on the other I'm worried I might never write anything half as good in Kriolu ever again. Poets, we're crazy like that. I also managed this excellent revision of an earlier poem that came from an exercise. I seem to have gotten super lucky with the ending here, I read the poem for the first time at the World Above monthly open reading at Dante Hall here in AC and got audible gasps at the end. I'm not going to lie, I live for that kind of response to my work;

Because on each
of her fingertips
a maze meant whorls,
it's her hands
that I itch for.
What I may miss
in tracing a line
on her palm
I divine
in the next.
Even her pinky
like a searchlight,
finds what
I fear revealed.
Her slender thumbs
oppose with grace
(Will they oppose me?)
Her index rises,
a tender wand,
a tenth of what
troubles my blood:
a touch more subtle
than I surmised.
All night,
each nail,
a pale croissant
I crave.

I'm on a roll, let's see how long my hot hand continues.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

HOLE (noted)
"each hoisting forever upward his burden"

Each shriek,
hoisting a heavy tome
somehow calligraphic,
upwards as dust
a new music, old
burden, unbreathed.

Each bar stumbled from
hoisting hymnals
forever humming
upward, arpeggiatic
a soul, saxophonic
burden, burnished.

Each solo, flat sharp,
hoisting a hammer
forever falling,
the ash-black
burden, airborne.

Each scream almost
hoisting down heaven.
forever. flaming
upwards. hell-bent.
your passion's single
burden. burning.

I'm thinking of revising this poem from the above form (which is a quotilla) to a form I call the B-Bop Solo, where I start with a quotilla, but then use normal enjambment and variations of the original phrase. I have written more successful poems like this than I have quotilla and it may become my favorite form to work in. The first revision looks like this;

HOLE (noted)
"each hoisting forever upward his burden"

Each shriek hoisting
a heavy tome
ssomehow calligraphic,
upwards as dust
a new music,
old burden, 

Each bar stumbled
hoisting hymnals,
forever humming upward
a soul, 


Each solo, 
flat sharp,
hoisting a hammer
forever falling
the ash-black


Each scream

down heaven

your passion's


And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 2013 Haiku/Senryu

You never know where the light will come from. Had a spell where inspiration was drier than a psoriatic elbow and then Boom! NPR sends out Tweets announcing this year's NaPoMo Twitter Poetry Contest and The NPR Cherry Blossom Haiku Contest, so I decided to get an early start. I initially decided not to submit any haiku or senryu deciding instead to submit excerpts from existing poems that I thought were interesting or could stand on their own. A funny thing happened on the way to internets. I started revising the excerpts to make them fit the 140 character limit and some of the poems got better. I also revised a couple to help them stand alone better and whaddaya know, but the new lines were not only better solo, they fit better in the poems too. I gained a new revision technique, one that looks to help my poems mightily. And then I decided to revise a few haiku/senryu and wound up submitting them too. Which has lead to me Twitterbombing haiku over the last few days. Including my first ever Portuguese haiku (Thanks Deborah). In fact, for NaPoMo I'm going to try to write at least seven haiku in Kriolu. I searched the web, but couldn't find any, maybe someone else is searching too and not finding any, so now there'll at least be something out there. No, my Kriolu isn't good enough to be writing haiku, but I figure this will force it to get better (wish me luck!). All the new ones felt like they wanted to pool in one spot, so here they are;

of grey ash and scarred rock-
Her fuschia sweater

Shining sign
"Dangerous Curve Ahead"-
Her lower lip

Titanium screws
won't help these brackets hold-
March wind

Chuva miudinha
Cai nas ruas da cidade-
Floras de cereja

Light rain
Falls on city streets-
Cherry blossoms

of a boy charged with rape-
Late rain

Grass clips
from the Mailman's boots-
More Junk Mail

And these next two Ladies and gentlemen are my first attempt at haiku in Kriolu;

de Cabo Verde-
Quel ventu seku

for Cape Verde-
This dry wind

Cigaru sem fumo
na beixu di homi-
Vulcan na Fogo

Cigarette unlit
on a man lips-
Volcano on Fogo

Cigarette smoke
drifting across a stage-
Cesaria's voice

Sunlight only
passes in both directions-
Door Of No Return

Nunny speaks 
Kriolu with her sisters -
Sudden sunbeams

Dealer's green eyes-
Lima beans in Nunny's

Almost Thanksgiving-
Nunny stirs a giant pot
of Caçhupa

March morning-
Drapes open to
thick fog

Cotton between
me and the pills-
Morning fog

Out of
the whiteness of the fog-

Big toolbox
I select the correct wrench-
Grandfather's smile

NPR Cherry Blossom Haiku
(These are the 5-7-5 versions for the contest)

March snowfall-
Her cheeks almost pink
as cherry blossoms

The man next to me
wearing no deodorant-
Not cherry blossoms

The shadows somehow
deeper after she departs-
Cherry blossoms fall

Vernal Equinox-
Our backyard halfway full
of cherry blossoms

Wet April morning-
Windshield wiper blades heavy
with cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms swirl-
In morning's pink avalanche
we leave snow angels

(Here are the versions I prefer even though they aren't all 5-7-5)

Early March
her cheeks bright pink-
Cherry blossoms

Man with
no deodorant-
Not cherry blossoms

She departs
into deepening shadows-
Cherry blossoms swirl

Vernal Equinox-
Our backyard halfway full
of cherry blossoms

April morning-
Windshield wiper blades heavy
with cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms swirl-
In the pink avalanche
snow angels

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I was standing outside the main auditorium on the campus of James Madison University in between readings at the first Furious Flower poetry conference back in 1995 when I first met Lenard D. Moore, haijin extraordinaire. I can't remember who introduced us, there were so many poets standing around just kicking it, but I had had a few haiku selected and published somewhere and it was suggested to me that I talk to Lenard. I had just heard of his book "The Gulf War-A Brief History" which was a collection of haiku that dealt with his experiences fighting in the first Gulf War. The book was, even then, very hard to find and even at Furious Flower it wasn't on sale. He fortunately had a copy of it on him which at least gave me a chance to flip through it while he talked to some of the poets standing around us. He had seen some of my work and remarked that they were very nice "short poems" and I knew right away what he meant. That they weren't haiku, at least not in the traditional sense. Like a lot of black poets I was a big fan of the "haiku" written by Sonia Sanchez and wrote poems in that style. But, I wasn't offended, I knew he was right and was interested in learning more. He started by rattling off some of the rules of traditional haiku and to my surprise he didn't mention the one rule I most expected. The five-seven-five syllabic requirement is the most famous 'rule' of haiku, only he never mentioned it, he talked about privileging the concrete image, no metaphor (a tough one), no simile, no rhyme, the 'Season word', and the importance of contrast or juxtaposition. Finally I asked him about the syllable count and he said what was most important was keeping it under 17 syllables. I have always loved writing in forms and dug haiku, or at least what I understood as haiku, like I dug many other forms. He recommended a few books for me too read and I made a mental note. Thus began a journey which has taken me almost twenty years, the journey to develop some competency and perhaps master the art of writing haiku. A few years later Lenard would attend Cave Canem, the workshop/retreat for black poets and we would get a chance to sit down and really talk about haiku and I would get a chance to peruse his books from end to end. I would spend a lot of time on and off scratching out little poems, some more successful than others and in fact buoyed by what I learned from him at CC I would go on to win the National Head to Head Haiku Slam Championship (which was written up in Time Magazine, of all places) and then defend it the next year. The first ever two time winner, although it has since been done by Tazuo Yamaguchi also. Still, the thing I wanted most, as a measurement of my progress was publication in a magazine or journal that specialized in haiku. That, to me would establish that I had achieved a basic ability to write in the form. To be honest, I don't submit much, not even regular poems, but I did submit maybe 20 or so haiku a year to various journals for quite a few years. Everything got rejected, although I came close a few times and got some great advice from a few editors including the very gracious Jim Kacian who almost took one of my haiku for Frogpond back in 2001. That near miss sustained me for a long time, I knew I was a good poet, but was just missing a key element of haiku. So, I kept reading and studying. Because if nothing else, I'm a very patient guy and fervently believe that anything worth having is also worth waiting for.

Earlier this year I finally had a breakthrough in my understanding of the form, it was something that Lenard had mentioned all those years ago, that I heard, but somehow never quite comprehended, privileging the concrete image, foregrounding it really and letting it stand on its own. It basically means letting go of any and all poetic devices and letting the image do all the work. That's a tough thing for most poets, myself included, to do. Poetic devices are what we specialize in after all. Posting haiku as Status Updates on Facebook helped a great deal, because you get instant feedback as to what people respond to and, if you're lucky, you can learn from that. I'm hard-headed, very much so, but I do learn, eventually (well, sometimes). And so, Last year for National Poetry Month I got a haiku accepted by NPR for the NaPoMo Twitter poem feature on their program 'Tell Me More'. It's not exactly a literary journal, but it was cool. The link for the poem on my Facebook got over 100 Likes or something crazy like that. Then, after a year or so of submitting haiku for the Wednesday Haiku Feature of the Lilliput Review's blog Issa's Untidy Hut, I finally got one accepted. It was for me a pretty big deal, i think I spent the whole day playing poker and not caring if I won or lost a single hand. Then, I got an email for a new haiku journal that was starting up, focussing on haiku about the moon. Was I interested in submitting? Do squirrels like nuts? Do eskimos build igloos? Do camels feel special on Wednesdays? I submitted and got a few accepted, Oh frabjous day! Calloh! Callay! It's just baby steps, but I'll take it. Along the way there have been some pretty cool moments. I often post haiku on FB and sometimes they get responses and sometimes they just seem to fall through the cracks, but one senryu in particular generated a ton of response;

In the Horse Room
I try to apologize-
She shakes her ponytail

As a writer, you just never know what people will latch onto or respond to, but this poem struck a chord with a bunch of folks. Often I post haiku and they get no response whatsoever, if one gets three or four Likes, I'm happy. If it gets any actual Comments, that's a bonus. This Senryu got over twenty comments, that's a record for me on Facebook. It always helps when people respond strongly to something you've written. Reading the Dark Pens issue has sparked a surge in writing for me and I cranked out a bunch of new haiku and some revisions of older Ku that didn't quite work for me. I feel like I've turned a corner. We'll see. The last couple of days I've been posting mad haiku to Twitter trying to get a poem accepted for a couple of NPR programs, I hope folk aint mad about me haiku-bombing their Timelines. Below enjoy seven acorns I found while strolling

Clemente settles
under a very high fly-
August sun

buzzing in blue Kool Aid-
Summer sun

Her hands
under my unbuttoned shirt-
Radiator heat

Pigeons pecking
between crack vials-
Cherry blossoms

New glasses
still she doesn't see me -
Morning fog

August twilight-
Brick wall darkening
with my pee

After her final moan-

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As a published writer, from time to time you have to do a vanity search on Google to see if your work is being posted on the Web anywhere. As long as the poems are properly attributed I generally don't have a problem with folk posting them to blogs or websites. Once I did find one of my poems plagiarized on MySpace, but a simple comment fixed that. I was searching Youtube and I came across the above video which I had somehow missed until now. It appears that a student at the University of New Haven had to present one of my poems as part of a class he was taking from his professor Randall Horton (The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street). It's always weird to hear someone else reading one of your poems, but it does help to see how the language rolls or doesn't off an unfamiliar tongue. This particular poem is a riff off of a Picasso painting titled 'The Old Guitarist' from his Blue period and a poem by Wallace Stevens titled "The Man with the Blue Guitar"  It's part of a series of poems I have that are in conversation with some of Stevens work (and by 'in conversation with' I mean 'outright refutations'.)

I haven't been writing much lately for various reasons, hadn't even been doing much revising. Then I saw a Tweet that announced that NPR was once again doing their Twitter poetry contest for National Poetry Month. This is the third year that they've done it and last year (on April 24th) I was lucky enough to have a poem selected to be read on the air during their program Tell Me More. Since there is a 140 character limit on the length of the poems, I had submitted all Haiku, Senryu and Six or Seven Word poems. But after reading through many of the other entries, this year I decided to try a different strategy, mainly excerpting lines from existing poems that I thought could stand alone. For example;


The arch of a foot,
the tender architecture
of its bridge.
The slope of a nose
above the X-Y coordinates
of a kiss. #tmmpoetry

is a monk,
in the dark cave
of the heart,
your name
until light.

But because of the 140 character limit I had to edit some of the lines and a funny thing happened. Some of them got better, much better. For example, in the second Tweet above the original read " Tonight, I am a monk kneeling . . . ", but to get it under the limit I cut out the pronoun. This changes the poem slightly without really changing the meaning and (in my opinion) making it stronger. In fact, most of the changes I made for the Tweets found their way back into the original poems. We'll see if I'm lucky enough to get a poem selected to be read on the air this year. I plan on submitting some haiku/senryu later this week. One poem in particular wound up with some pretty major revisions sparked by the initial edits needed for the Tweet.


I always loved
to say 'acetaminophen.'
A wizened woman
once said
that some words
are Almighty
in the mouth.
Can be held
on the tongue
like a nib of licorice.
Some words
are roots
that can be chewed
for medicinal value.
Some stain
the tongue.
Some raise
the blood pressure
or relax the hard muscles
of the heart.
Like 'acetaminophen,'
some cause bleeding.
Your name is a word
in a language
I cannot yet speak.
a yearning
of the tongue.
Hope is
habit forming.
I lick it
from stained lips.
A rare sweet root,
to certain sentences
it masks bitterness.
The chemist says
boiled into an extract,
it could alleviate
even the barking cough
of loneliness.
Your name rhymes
with acetaminophen,
Bright syllables
spill from my mouth,
cloak me
in a crimson robe.
is a monk,
in the dark cave
of the heart,
your name
until light.

I feel like it's much improved over the previous versions, especially the ending. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I needed to get me back in a good writing groove. NaPoMo is coming up and I'll be doing my usual 30 Haiku/Senryu, so we'll see. 

I was hoping to post a Trip Report about my recent sojourn to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to feature and kick off their Spoken Word Series they do on Monday nights, but I'm waiting on the video of the event to be uploaded so I can link to it.

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, March 01, 2013

On Bended Knee

It was the Revel Casino's poker room on a Friday night, I had just bought chips and was heading to my seat when I passed Evgeniya, a gorgeous Russian poker dealer sitting at an empty table. When I say 'gorgeous' I am not engaging in hyperbole, my personal taste is that I prefer black hair to blonde, brown eyes to blue and medium caramel or dark chocolate skin tones to lighter ones, but Eve is ridiculously fine by pretty much any standard. My table was next to her's, so I passed close enough to say Hi and mention that last weekend when I was at the University of Missouri teaching a class, I encountered a young black poet who had taken three years of Russian language classes so that she could read Pushkin in the original Russian. Eve, like most Russians loves her Pushkin, even if she didn't know until I told her that he was in fact, black. I get dealt in and start scoping out the players at my table, it's a mix of regulars with a few new faces, none of whom seem to play particularly well. I get no hands to play and so I settle back for a long night of folding, I need to play for thirteen more hours to qualify for a promotional drawing on Sunday and I'd like to accrue at least seven of them tonight. I sat down at about 7:20PM and figure I'll be here until about 2AM. At 7:30 the dealers change, since the practice in poker rooms is to rotate the dealers every thirty minutes. This is done to lessen the impact of any player and dealer teaming up to cheat the other players. Our new Dealer immediately begins to distribute the cards and I look up to see who has tapped out Eve and to my surprise she's still sitting there. The whole string of Dealers has now rotated, but she's still there at the table next to the podium, twirling her hair through her fingers, which she is wont to do when she's bored. Dealers work for tips and obviously a Dealer with no players is making no money, something which causes the house to try to keep dealers from sitting on too many dead tables. I fold for twenty more minutes, then pick up AK suited in Spades. I raise to $12 and everyone folds. I collect my tiny pot and the dealers begin their rotations again. And once again, once they are finished, Eve is still sitting there by her lonesome. Now, I'm perplexed, she doesn't look nearly as unhappy as I'd expect her to after sitting on a dead table for almost an hour. Something isn't right, but it isn't my problem. A few minutes pass and I see a player sit at her table, the isn't unusual because fine as she is, guys will sit and try to talk to her all the time. This guy though, usually comes with his girlfriend. I look around and she's nowhere to be seen. Then Frank, the Room Manager comes and joins them, this too is fairly normal, as the staff will often send someone to rescue Eve if they feel they guy is bothering her. The three of them though seem to be having an amiable conversation which lasts maybe fifteen minutes. Frank and the guy both get up and leave and Eve is once again alone. I pick up pocket Queens, raise and get two callers. The Flop comes Ten high,I bet $25 and they both fold. I start watching the Knicks and the Rockets on the big screen TV. The new Dealer taps in, a woman named Susan who is one of my favorite dealers. Not only is she an excellent dealer (which means I don't have to double-check all her actions for accuracy) but she is extremely literate and capable of holding an intellectual conversation while running the game. I look up and poor Eve is still stuck there. I've been playing poker in AC for fifteen years and never seen a dealer stuck on a dead spread for one and a half hours. It just doesn't happen. And my OCD doesn't like it at all, because things are supposed to work according to the rules, to the routine. Now this guy John comes and sits next to her and begins chatting her up. One of the guys in my game notices and remarks that everytime he sees John, John seems to spend more time talking to Eve than he does actually playing poker. I ask him if he's jealous and he pipes down for a second, then continues. John is a Dominican from NYC who is a regular weekend player in AC, both at the Borgata and here at Revel. he likes to make big bets and bluff a lot. I was actually hoping to see him tonight because I have a picture to show him. John is a dead ringer for the poet Willie Perdomo or rather for how Willie looked twenty years ago. I had mentioned to John that he was Willie's doppelgänger, but he didn't know who Willie was. So I found a picture on the internet of a young Willie and bookmarked it. There's an empty seat in our game which I assume is John's, but he's currently preoccupied. After ten minutes he brings his chips over and takes the seat and plays a hand, but then goes right back to Eve's otherwise empty table. By now it is bugging me to no end that she's been sitting there for almost two hours with no relief, Something isn't right, I can feel it. A half an hour passes, we get another dealer and John is still putting in his bid with the Princess of Moscow when the Floorman calls a new game. In fact, he calls it for Eve's table which means that John gets up and returns to our table. After  the next hand I bring up our previous conversation and show him the picture, He's stunned, not only does he look exactly like Willie, but they both wear their beards trimmed exactly the same way. I show him a current picture of Willie and he says "I guess now I know what I'll look like in twenty years." I look up and the players are being seated at the new game, I see the guy from earlier, only now his girl is with him. He takes the two seat and she takes the four seat. I scan the room and notice that at the five tables running there are six open seats, and yet the Floor man is starting this new game with only six players. That's unusual as they would normally fill the empty seats before starting a new game. The players are all seated and Eve puts the deck in the shuffler, but then quickly takes it back out. The same deck. I cock my head in surprise, but she starts pitching the cards. I look down at my own hand I've just been dealt and it's pocket sixes, a hand I'll have to play for this $7 raise that's just been made by the player ahead of me. The Flop comes King high, he bets and I fold and suddenly there's a shriek from the table across from us. Eve's table. I look up and the woman in the four seat is holding her face in her hands and staring at the community cards on the table as if they're dismembered body parts, she's now speechless, gasping and trembling. I stand up to get a better view, thinking maybe they hit the Bad Beat Jackpot and can now see that there are words written on the cards. One word on each card to be exact. The cards themselves are the Ace through the Five of Hearts, a Straight flush on board!! But it's the words on the cards that are causing all the commotion; they read "Eden will you marry me?" The guy has now risen from the two seat and has a ring in his hand, she looks up and goes "Are you serious, are you serious?" He gets down on one knee and nods yes. She breaks out shaking and is now in tears, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I look up and the waitress is standing behind them with six Champagne flutes on her tray. Everyone applauds, Eve wipes a tear from the corner of her eye and Frank comes over and announces that she has in fact said yes. I sit back down, I've seen a lot of crazy things in poker rooms, but never this. The dealer calls me, "Hey Pittsburgh, you got cards, the action's on you Buddy."

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet ( and dusted with cinnamon).