Dear Dirty America



August 17
11:00 2012

(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

50 years ago
I played poker all one night & won 33 cents—
basement of Fred Graske’s house
pool table down there, too—
then I thought,
What am I doing? I can’t afford to lose!

Still, I’ve been gambling ever since
all I’ve had or ever would have
on surviving & achieving
despite playing the game that is no game
in competition with those who give up
caring about anyone
except those who can & will help them score—
without doing likewise.

Sometimes, I want to blame the unscrupulous
& they deserve blame
for my frustration—
but I’d fail that way—
all I can do is become more effective
than they can imagine the necessity of
tho I begin weak & frightened as anyone.

I often feel I’m the weakest, most frightened.
All I can do is learn more & apply it better
or, when I’m overwhelmed, camouflage—
but, then, emerge, initiate a gambit
designed as best I can—
& persevere, & gain, & change the odds—
if it’s not a game, it’s war—
& if I haven’t died, the outcome’s undecided—
I don’t expect to see its end.

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written hereSee also, There’s still a little breath in the old American RevolutionOn Job Creationand Stalin.

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  1. Joseph Marks
    Joseph Marks June 05, 23:34

    I wonder how to call a moderated gambling. One that you do for fun, gain friends and enjoy with your family in a hotel. It’s no longer gambling right? It’s keeping up with your life. Moderation is the key if you “love” poker.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Adam Michael Luebke
    Adam Michael Luebke June 06, 01:34

    I suppose a person can gamble moderately and enjoy the thrill of possible gain / loss, based mostly on chance, and sometimes enhanced by skill. My grandmother is a big-time Midwest gambler. She’s got her own club card with her name stamped in raised, golden letters. She enjoys the food, the conversation, and the excitement.

    But she’s never gambled away the farm. She keeps it down to nickels and dimes.

    Reply to this comment

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