Blackjack Imaginings

In fact, it’s a beautiful thing: expertly made,
the egg of lead in the business end

and the flexible leather braid
leading to a bulb for the hand

and the loop for the jacker’s wrist,
kinetic energy far superior to a fist’s.

It’s perfect also for holding a book
open to a certain page or passage.

How it feels about such work,
we cannot know but can imagine,

being men and wondering, after all—
the thud and crumple, the fall.

In the palm of my left hand, I slap it; then
he in his right, my left-handed, bookish friend.

Robert Wrigley has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010). His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic, Barrow Street, and The New Yorker, and were included in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Best American Poetry. Wrigley’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and six Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.