Papa Called It Polka, by Salvatore Buttaci

Papa Called It Polka
by Salvatore Buttaci

In his Italian accent
Papa called it “polka,”
and when he found a deck
hidden in my dresser
he’d toss it in the garbage.
“We don’t need no gamblers here,”
he’d say. “It’s the devil’s game.
“Stay away from polka.”

At weddings Papa danced
the polka like Astaire.
He’d have his nieces puffing
out of breath (Mama didn’t dance)
then when one polka ended,
Papa was ready for the next.
He refused to let
his nieces sit one out.

Years later Sharon taught me
how to shuffle, deal,
hold and fold my poker hand.
She showed me how to wear
the inscrutable poker stare
unlike the happy beaming face
Papa wore when he danced the night away.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 271.

Salvatore Buttaci won the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007. His story collections, Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, were published by All Things That Matter Press. His work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times and The Writer. He and his wife Sharon reside in West Virginia.

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