Home  »  Spoon River Anthology  »  147. Tom Beatty

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

147. Tom Beatty

I WAS a lawyer like Harmon Whitney

Or Kinsey Keene or Garrison Standard,

For I tried the rights of property,

Although by lamp-light, for thirty years,

In that poker room in the opera house.

And I say to you that Life’s a gambler

Head and shoulders above us all.

No mayor alive can close the house.

And if you lose, you can squeal as you will;

You’ll not get back your money.

He makes the percentage hard to conquer;

He stacks the cards to catch your weakness

And not to meet your strength.

And he gives you seventy years to play:

For if you cannot win in seventy

You cannot win at all.

So, if you lose, get out of the room—

Get out of the room when your time is up.

It’s mean to sit and fumble the cards,

And curse your losses, leaden-eyed,

Whining to try and try.