It’s the full deck that makes us sure
We’re not the house of cards that trembled;
With thirteen runs in sets of four
As luck would have assembled.
It’s the full pack (red and black)
That finds trump in awkward shuffle.
It’s the bold attack, from humble stack,
That best will cause kerfuffle.
It’s the full set that serves us best;
That most completely deals our hand:
To cope with what might manifest,
To make good from what is bland.
. Count not the clown, not that foolish stoker;
. As by name, he’s nothing more than joker.
© Tim Grace, 22 May, 2011
To the reader: The history of playing cards dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when members of the Chinese royal house entertained themselves with courtly pass-times. My notion of a full deck is inherited from a European tradition of 52 cards arranged in four suits of 13 cards. The mathematical versatility of 52 cards is convenient and probably accounts for its widespread use. A full-deck has symmetry and sequence; pattern and probability; traits that appeal to someone of corresponding age!
To the poet: Punctuation of a poem is part of the puzzle. Keeping it simple is one approach. Alternatively, a liberal smattering of syntactic signage is very helpful in ensuring adherence to the poet’s preferred phrasing. For some poems punctuation is a secondary matter that suggests its own logical placement. In this sonnet, punctuation is placed to be an obvious obstruction; and an intended instruction.