This is a transcription of a Shel Silverstein poem recited by Ricky Jay at the end of his autobiographical documentary, “Deceptive Practices”. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the Internet, which tells me that this poem was either written by Silverstein as a private commission, or that Jay wrote the poem himself. Either way, I thought it fun enough to copy from the film and put online.
The Game In The Windowless Room
Of all all the games I’ve ever played
Of all the hands I’ve dealt
Of all the pots I’ve ever raked
to untold wealth.
From the beckoning lights of the Vegas strip
to the Pittsburgh roadhouse gloom,
The most dangerous game I played with the man
In that locked-door windowless room.
His eyes were yellow as the golden crown
on the King of Diamond’s head;
His teeth were black
as the mustached Jack,
And his mouth was bloody red as the crimson gown on the Queen of Hearts.
And his hand was marked with the sign
That’s found on the hand of the Diamond King.
And he smiled
As his eyes met mine
And he said,
“What a shame,
I’ve been watching your game,
As you fleece these witless fools.
How would you do,
At a hand or two?
A sealed room,
No windows, no phone,
An unbroken seal on the cards.
No watches or rings,
Or jaggedy things
That can clip or chip or mark
On a non-metal, clear glass tabletop.
No mirrors, no overhead lights,
With foot-thick walls
and just one door
that’s locked…from the outside.
For as long as it takes
For one man to break
Be it an hour
Or a day,
Would you dare take a seat,
When there’s no way to cheat?”
Well, what could I say?
So in the silent tomb of that sealed room
We both sat down to play.
Well, he was no Joker,
He was an Ace.
And although I was the King of this pack,
I knew that the lady would have to smile on me
If I were to win all his jack.
So we played for hours;
Or was it a week?
I lost all track of time,
And he won a few,
And he bluffed a few,
But the final pot was mine.
“Well, I don’t know quite how you did it,” he said,
As I raked in his last buck.
“But shaves, or seconds, or a frigid deck,
It had nothing to do with luck.
You’re a hustler, a sharp, a mechanic,”
“Now the real game’s about to start.”
Here he pulls out his knife,
And me with just this deck of cards.
“Ain’t it funny to learn
How the odds can turn,” said he,
As he thrusted
But I dodged his blade
And my eight of Spades
Knocked the knife right out of his hand.
“Hell, I’ll beat you to death with my hands,”
And he raised a powerful fist;
But my five of clubs
Left a bloody stub
as it sliced his hand off at the wrist.
Yeah, he screamed,
And he pulled a gun from his boot,
“Last hand and the dealer dies,”
But my one last card- my Ace of Hearts-
caught him right between the eyes.
Well, that I might say
was the game of my life.
When the police
did finally arrive,
They found a windowless room,
A corpse on the floor,
Still locked from the outside.
And no one there but him and me,
A classic locked-room mystery.
But where is the murder weapon?
They searched, but they can’t find it anywhere.
Oh where can it be?
They don’t look at me,
I’m just playing