Mountain gamblers set the highest stakes,
Shuffle the Rockies, deal Himalayas,
Stacking the deck — collision of the plates;
The outsize players lay out their array as
Ultimate piles to break the bank: it breaks.
Pharaohs and cowboys, movers and sheikhs —
Their rugged good looks erode away since
Poker facies mimic complacence;
Odds give way; orogeny abates;
Let chips and ejecta fall where they may as
Gamesters roll; the teamster waits;
Who hauls the Earth must pay the drayage.
NOTES for Students of English
Stacking the deck – In gambling, marking the cards ahead of time to cheat; in general, arranging a disadvantage against one’s opponent; here, a play on geologic layering.
Collision of the plates – Tectonic plates.
Pile – In addition to a physical heap, “pile” can mean a large amount of money.
To break the bank – Here a play on two meanings of “bank” – 1) an embankment or slope; and 2) in gambling, the dealer’s fund; “to break the bank” means to win more cash than the casino has on hand.
Movers and sheikhs – Suggests the sound of the idiom “movers and shakers” – powerful and influential people.
Facies – (Pronounced FAA-seez or FAA-sheez;) A distinctive rock unit such as an outcropping; here a play on “poker face” – an expressionless face characteristic of a poker player.
Orogeny – (Pronounced or-AJ-en-ee) The process of mountain formation by folding of the earth’s crust.
Let the chips fall where they may – An idiom meaning “no matter what the outcome is”; here a play on “poker chips.”
Ejecta – Material thrown out of an erupting volcano.
Drayage – Freight charges.