The Labrador is leery. He could have sworn he had a meerschaum pipe
and was drinking a 7&7; where’d he get this monocle and tumbler of gin?
And wasn’t he holding four of a kind instead of a pair of aces? Worry
flashes across the Collie’s face: if Mr. Two Legs bursts in, how will he explain
the cigarette dangling from between his lips, and is it just the Cocker Spaniel’s
imagination or has the red from the velvet walls bled onto the table’s green felt
and why is the word “No” hovering above the pile of poker chips
as the Pomeranian examines his half-drawn paw and the Bulldog rises
from his chair, jaws locked in a rictus of triumph as he stares down
his victim, a piebald Pug, whose losing cards flip to the floor
as his highball waterfalls into his lap, his body already slipping
through the black abyss beneath the table, where his ancient brother
Cerberus waits at the gates of that living Hell
reserved for hard-luck dogs and once-promising artists.