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Poetry and Medicine
March 1, 2006

Poker Face

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2006;295(9):973. doi:10.1001/jama.295.9.973

for Jim

You say you’ve been dealt
a bad hand, aces and eights, then straight
to surgery where your viscera were cut,
flushed, and folded back in place—this
ups the ante—you who’ve held all the chips,
have known no limits, now declare
just how you’ll play out this hand.
You never bluff.
And as I see you shuffle
down the hall toward chemo,
doubled up, risking it all, we're 52 again,
each with a full house.
You raise. I’ll call.