black ink faded to green

and stretched over weathered fingers

the tribal heart an illusion due to

my grandmother’s name


layers of memory etched into his skin

five cents a name and twenty dollars

to hide his impulsive nature

I never knew the other woman


the symbols of his past

shine through grease and scars and sweat

and his honest work

tools held aloft like a sabre


hands that fixed all the people around them

but still broke every thing they touched

pieces of video recorders and televisions

still litter our world


I remember tracing each image

with tiny fingers

and feeling dwarfed by his greatness

he lead by example


those identifying marks saved him

when I could not recognise

his clean shaven face

and screamed for my bearded oddball


the diamond, the heart

the spade and the club

I learned the value of when to fold

and spent hours practicing my poker face


those hands shaped my ideals of class

with rebellion on his sleeves

and the biggest heart for all

book judging never made sense to me


I vowed at so young an age

to replicate his cards on my own

more delicate knuckles

illusions and faded colours and all


promising to be faithful to

his hierarchy of wrong order

past his objections to be right

and his warning of job killers


my own suits will sit mirror imaged

my right hand to dominate

the body art movement

with a unique twist on an old favourite


and although I generally wear

my heart on my wrist

I’ll proudly show my hand

and we’ll walk away with the pot.