by Ben Kline
My father would test our honesty with five dollar bills
he hid in odd places, including the leather volume
of Shakespeare’s complete works kept on my desk
in which hid my large rubbers and paramour numbers.
He wanted to keep us true by default despite
my lean into vice after learning five card draw
from a priest who claimed a bluff is not a lie, just
strategy like Ronnie’s star wars or Iraqi WMDs.
I excelled at most tests, yet had no use for winning.
I enjoyed tactical thinking and always left his money
where I found it, maybe shifting it to the next sonnet
or slid under corn flakes instead of raisin bran.
He used to threaten us with the paddle if caught
lying about something too simple to be worth the sin.
I appreciated his perspective, that context had scale
beyond cards, even if my ethics were a fat cottonmouth
lurking at the gush end of a culvert, waiting for mice
swept loose when a surprise downpour flooded the barn.