Rich cautela

Expanded cards, peacocked in contrition for the anemic assembly of a hand.
Contracted countenance, shoulders tensed and compacting muscle into rags, wrung out underneath my skin.

Dilated pupils, blood pumping buckets through pipeline veins.
A pellet of sweat, naked admission of the hand’s frailty.

One swiping hand silences the tell, incognito. An army of chips, a unified stampede of clinking plastic into the center ring.

The smell of felt, fine hairs of green exhuming poker musk. Knotted stomach, a shriveled raisin hollowed out. Sand-paper throat, inhibiting a saliva-swallow until the all-in offer is replied to.

A man across the table, muscular with murderous eyes and strangling his cards between two fingers. He shrinks under the weight of my chips, tiny wince gives way, face-first fold.

I expand my arms, unfurl my fingers, give my winnings a hug and rake in the money with a wide grin.

Rich Cautela can be contacted at

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