Poet #6- The Ballad of Paulie Barber

MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzlTvDD-7ws

Paulie had his ticket punched
And there was no goin’ back.
Paulie caught the last train out:
The endless stretch of track.

 

He booked a seat in the far-back car
And began to settle in
When he spied through shear of smoke
A game ‘bout to begin.

 

He asked if he might sit a hand,
The greyed-out heads did nod
And Paulie caught the dealer’s sneer,
Like glare off a lightnin’ rod.

 

Paulie had his ticket punched
And there was no goin’ back.
Paulie caught the last train out:
The endless stretch of track.


A feline with a frizzed-out mane
And a hat like sunset on his head
Purred, “A change of game might I suggest;
Strip poker, aye, instead.”

 

Paulie and the table shrugged,
Was all the same to them.
The dealer gnawed at his cigar
And dealt to all the men.

 

The cat was out in one swift round
(He’d tried to bluff bad cards).
So Paulie won that sunset hat
And the train chugged onward.

 

Paulie had his ticket punched
And there was no goin’ back.
Paulie caught the last train out:
The endless stretch of track.


The table shifted, change of hands,
A hound crouched o’er his cards.
He sputtered a greeting to Paulie and said,
“I’m replacin’ the cat, that coward.”

 

The dealer cut the deck and dealt.
“Aces high,” he muttered.
The dog scratched the chain at his neck,
“Three of a kind,” he stuttered.

 

Paulie fanned his two-tone straight
And saw the hound’s face flush.
“I –uh guess that you’ll be takin’ this.”
He tugged his chain and blushed.

 

Paulie had his ticket punched
And there was no goin’ back.
Paulie caught the last train out:
The endless stretch of track.


This round the dealer snagged a chair
And turned his cap around.
He skewered his cigar in the table
And dealt the cards face-down.

 

“Now this round’s special,” he said with a grin.
“Call it the ultimate strip.
“If I win, I get your soul.
“You win, it’s the end of your trip.”

 

Paulie glanced at the world outside,
The chips of moving scenery.
He noted the sky like an infected scab
And the steadily reddening greenery.

 

Paulie had his ticket punched
And there was no goin’ back.
Paulie caught the last train out:
The endless stretch of track.


Paulie took his cards up.
The dealer took up his.
Nuthin’ but fluff, Paulie thought
And the dealer noted his visage.

 

The train chuffed and bucked,
Its rails glowed with the heat,
Paulie shifted his cards in his grip,
And the dealer picked his teeth.

 

“I’ll let you fold to save some face.”
The dealer adjusted his frames.
“Nice offer,” thanked a grinning Paulie,
“But I think I’ll call, all the same.”

 

Paulie had his ticket punched
But there’s always another chance.
Paulie caught the last train out:
Off the endless stretch of track.


Paulie Barber burned the Devil
And won a ticket back.
‘Cuz dealers who wear sunglasses
Clearly don’t know jack.

The End

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