Gambling in June

July 7, 2023

It’s the dealer’s choice—

The table’s hot.

He slammed another drink and said, “Hit me,”

When he could have played it safe to win the pot.


With every risk he’d take,

The stakes were raised—

All in search of his father’s praise.


Passed down the yearning

Like a gene to his daughters–

“Chin up,” “Toughen up,”

“It’s just a joke, lighten up.”

Words like a virus

Each right move: love-earning,

Each wrong step: confirming—

Learning that nothing,

Not even them,

Would be enough.


The cards were stacked.

The dice were loaded.

The prize he promised

Were plastic coins: gold-coated.


Damn, I feel jaded, like our luck ran out.

Never knowing what Fatherhood was all about.


I thought I hit the jackpot

Until I sat with him.

Before the house was up,

Talking news, talking sports,

Over a freshly-brewed coffee cup

Until it was no longer hot.


Seemingly inane, sad, and true.

I didn’t know what I was missing until

I was sitting with him– just us two.


It’s the chair by the TV set,

Worn and creaky.

It’s the edgy jokes that

Make the whole family so uneasy.

It’s the way the kids groan in time

When he recounts the same old memory.

It’s the third cup of sangria,

They warn, that makes him act silly.


It’s the little things you miss when they pass.

What you crave because they don’t last.

What leaves a lump in my throat,

Tightens my chest,

Unsettles my stomach,

Brings me to tears because

It’s what we could never have.


It’s the roll of the dice,

The luck of the draw,

Whether you grow up knowing you were loved,

Or you grow up thinking twice.


Kailani Norwell has a big mouth, a big heart, a big brain (metaphorically speaking), a big fucking ego, and an even bigger take on everything and anything. She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge–to learn all that she can–and for personal development. While she dreams larger than life and encourages others to follow what puts sparks in their eyes, she typically plays incredibly small. She has indebted herself for America’s most expensive therapist–a bachelor’s and master’s degree in clinical psychology. Writing is her passion. It’s what ignites her soul. It is her most sincere form of expression. She doesn’t think she’s to write the next great American novel, but she’s to write something.