Sunday, April 24, 2005

Jen 23

“He who dallies is a dastard,
he who doubts is damned.”
--Edmond Hoyle

Fantan According to Hoyle

is simple, as fantan’s a "build up or down"
game, and all "build up or down" games are
simple, according to Hoyle whose seminal Short
Treatise On Whist was, I’ll just bet, not.

Play centers on the seven, of course,
which can be divided in half, so four sevens
make eight three-and-one-halves. Simple.
Aces count below the waist, kings above.

What? He’s covered every base: thirty-two
cards saddled with infinite laws for endless
possibilities, but is possibility possible
hen chance has all been boiled down

to rules (i.e. clubs on clubs, hearts the same
or see appendage 4, you never married,
big surprise there, and where oh where are
the fantans? Don’t they sound lovely?

With oranges in their blue-black hair waving
crimped gold fans over their silken Victorian
feathery unmentionables? A peek at them,
the rouged cheeks, is why I agreed to play

this game in the first place. Looking to the left
of the dummy, then the right, all that reveals
itself to me is the math--sheer as a stocking
with none of the round warm leg. I hesitate

over the discards, go uh uh uh awhile--
just another fantan damned) like mutton?

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