cards splayed out
Creative Non-Fiction Poetry

The Gambler

My grandfather died in a grocery store parking lot
He dropped one of those cans of five-minute cinnamon rolls on the way down
Nobody told me if it popped when it hit the ground
A stranger called the ambulance
The last thing he did was smile at her
That was my grandfather: pockets full of hotel chocolates, always on the move

Once upon a time he bailed out of a stalled plane into the sub-zero Alaskan winter
He set up camp miles from the crash site
Took three days for anybody to find him
The old man tried to teach me how to cheat at cards
How to walk through the service door at the casino with a free cup from the gas station
to fill up at the soda fountain
I didn’t take to it very well
Not really a fan of Risk


They put him in the cemetery at the Air Force base, just east of the runway
White marble stumps like off-brand ghosts of the hundred-year ponderosa pines
that were native to that land once
overshadowed now by the fence
I cannot cry at my grandfather’s graveside without a military issue day pass
So I gaze at the empty space through the bars; I sit here and I think about risk

Fenn MacDonald
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Fenn MacDonald is a poet, fiction writer, and editor currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. They enjoy long walks in the woods, quality time with cats, and wistful dreams of the sea.