An Elegy On Probability

You always risked too much, diced with life
as if you couldn't wait to lose the roll,
accept with thanks the invitation to the dance
of death that most of us decline with haste,
if hardly thanks --

you'd barely learnt to walk
before you damn near won that bloody throw
and tried to waltz away. Remember how
you guzzled kerosene like liquid candy,
tones of toxic blue in three-four tempo?
Dad hung you by the heels,
swung you like a dripping side of beef
to drag you from the dancefloor.

You later learnt some better moves,
tangoed with the traffic, foxtrotted
with a far less agile twelve-ton truck,
but luck held that day with the die...

like other kids you tried to smoke and drink
too early -- unlike them you felt once more
the rhythm of the dance, tried to join the conga line
that never ends, green-faced as a corpse
(but not quite green enough) from smoking tealeaves.

Then a polka, powered by beer in excess,
promised much until you spilled your guts,
revealed what you could hold -- messy,
but impressive in that scrawny frame --
you won that roll, lived on
to chance your hand another time.

We tried to take your dice away,
erected fences every day
to stop you listening to the music
of the cubes -- you jumped the lot,
left home young and heard a cooler music,
probed your veins to play the odds
and roll for higher stakes --

you lost the throw and died alone.
Did you find what you desired
upon that dark dancefloor,
my brother?

© David Nourse 2011