I remember card games, Sunday afternoons,
grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts
around the four-sided cardboard tables.
On the table corners, pairs of low-number cards
tracking tricks taken.

“What’s trump?” I’d hear and
“Hearts are trump.”
I tried to remember until someone asked again,
so that I could leap in with the right answer, but
card games are boring
when you are not a player.
I never waited long enough.

Another Sunday, another card game, another question –
week to week, it seemed
they did not remember the answer.
Nor did I.
“What’s trump?”
“Diamonds are trump.”

Years later, I learned
the trump suit changes with every hand –
hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades –
and the trump card takes the trick.

I never liked playing cards:
politics was my game.
But now we all have been

No more hearts as trump,
no loving, caring, bleeding hearts
win anything today.
Nor spades –
that honest laboring tool for
digging basements,
turning over gardens,
planting trees –
spades win nothing now.

Diamonds are trump,
hard and cold,
flash and glare,
unearned wealth

Clubs may come next,
again and

No matter the hand you hold,
Trump takes all tricks.


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