Poetry: The Gambler at the Guillotine

by Damian Balassone

He stood before the guillotine
with one last word to say,
for when the cleaver sliced his neck
his head would roll away:

“Each moment of my crazy life,
I’m thankful to have lived,
but for your wicked crime today,
the Lord will not forgive.

“Because of my prophetic gift,
you’ve tipped as I have tipped,
and for every race this carnival,
my horse had not been pipped,
but at yesterday’s Toowoomba Cup
I dared to tip The Muse,
and all you weasels followed me,
not thinking she could lose.

“For sixteen races in a row,
I tipped with wild success,
when you noticed my prophetic gift,
you gathered in my nest,
for every bet that I would make,
you copied my selection,
and when my pony crossed the line,
you raced to claim collection.

“You furnished me with lavish gifts,
in counterfeit respect,
you plied me with New Zealand wine,
and cleared me of past debts,
and when it came to race weekend,
you traced my every move,
and when the lion scored the loot,
a pack of jackals grooved.

“You feasted at the carnival
(you’d become such wealthy men),
with arrogance you all declared
my horse would win again,
so I punted on a miracle:
I backed The Muse to win,
you frowned at my selection, but…
you did not pull the pin.

“Yes, when the derby had begun,
your cash was on The Muse,
you always replicate my tip
to fund your thirst for booze,
and when they hugged the final bend,
you cheered The Muse to win,
and just before the final straight,
she led them ’round the rim.

“You cheered her as she galloped home,
to ease your money woes,
but out of nowhere Merlin soared
and pipped her by a nose!
You stood there in astonishment,
assessing what it cost,
then sunk into the luscious turf…
your fortune had been lost!

“And when you’re sorrow turned to rage,
you looked to turn the blame,
and found me in the mayor’s marquee,
and spat on my good name,
cowardly you cornered me
then cruelly bound my hands,
shouting like a drunkard choir:
You’re finished in this land.’

“Now here I stand before you all,
mistreated and maligned.
Guess what? I only gambled coins…
so no fortune you will find!”
They placed him in the guillotine,
with no more words to say,
but when his head rolled free, they couldn’t
wipe its smile away.

About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a delusional Collingwood supporter who writes poetry and fiction.


  1. Barry Stergo says:

    Bravo! A twist in the tail.

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