The Weather

The Pleasures of Poker Chips

I’m continually surprised by hopes which just turn up, like a coin turns up during a spring cleaning. Coins! Those cold, heavy sparks! Nestled among familiar places where all the days I sit around and tap my sides and sometimes play with my face. Or the other morning, cleaning up the coffee table from the mess of last night’s poker game, I was surprised by such a hope. I was restacking the poker chips and putting them in their trays when, accounting and reassembling rows of green blue black chips I felt the pleasure of manipulation, of the disks’ elicitation and inspiration of my fingers’ precise articulation. Hear that?! Listen! Nimbly sorting and stacking the things, flipping and filliping them hither thither into satisfying cylinders of solid color, I keenly felt my fingertips, and their prestidigit(get it)tators’ ability for quick precision. I also felt a mental satisfaction in handling the abstract concept of the money of the mind. Coins by their nature encircle this satisfaction. Their place within the hand and specifically in the fingers corresponds neatly to their place in thought. For there is one grotesque and grand amount of money, a single future sum, portioned out by the present. The nimbleness of a mind which can so divide and move parts about like chips in a stack is dimly foreshadowed in the nimbleness of the fingers: the way in which they are the refined divisions of the otherwise unrefined hand.

It is mastery not unlike the syllable-by-syllable utterance of inspired rhyming speech, the feeling of lips shaping plosive sounds out of air, quickly and accurately, one after another in rhythm—or simply listing an array of items: the fifty states, the presidents’ names of every country in Europe, the names of all the local birds, or simply remembering and saying aloud the name of some half-forgotten person, plant, or apparatus—any reformulation of the world through phonemes, affords a similar pleasure. Every word is a pleasure—or it should be.

Eric Gelsinger is part of the old House Press in Buffalo, NY. His work can be found in Fence, LUNGFULL!, Ecopoetics, and Flim Forum. During the last seven years he has worked for the United Nations, and as an Equity Trader for D. E. Shaw. His interests include the economy of literature, Latin American poetry and prose, and comedy. He lives in Brooklyn.