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Jack Reno
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Jack Reno

He slapped his wallet on the table,
But Joe the Joker called his bluff.
Jack built his house with three old queens,
But was busted by a royal flush.
Jack’s boots were worn and dusty,
And he’d sometimes get the shakes,
But he’d always raise the ante,
And play for bigger stakes.

You could see him sipping Turkey
And playing dollar Keno
In the first joint over Stateline.
They called him old Jack Reno.

Smiling, laughing Jack
Who always bought a round.
Jazzing, crazy Jack
Who was every loser’s friend.
He had a stripper chick in Vegas,
A sweet wife in Marin,
But his first love was the table
Where Fortune took a spin.

When he first blew into town
Fresh from gambler’s school,
Jack knew all the odds by heart;
Jack was no man’s fool.
Jack thought that he owned all the cards.
Yeah, he knew his way around,
But it only took one joker
To bring Jack Reno down.

Now you can stake him to a chip
And watch him take a hit
From a fresh new deck
That never runs his way,
Or try to double down,
Or fill a California split
To build a little stack
To get him through the day.

You could see him sipping Turkey
And playing dollar Keno
In the first joint over Stateline.
They called him old Jack Reno.

One night at that dark table
Where dealers name  the game,
The man in black said,
“Stakes are fates.”
“I’m in,” said Jack.
“I’ll take five cards.”
He drew a Deuce,
A pair of Aces, pair of Eights.

“I’ll call your bluff,”
Said smiling Jack.
The stranger showed
Three twos and took the pot.
“I’ll be damned, ”
Said cleaned out Jack.
“Your call,” the stranger said
And shot him on the spot.

They laid Jack out with his lucky charms,
And passed the hat for a box of pine,
And sent Jack down to sit in with the worms,
Where no one loses all the time.
And now his ghost looks worn and dusty
As it moans and shakes its chains,
When it’s haunting the casinos
And can’t get in the games.

You can see it after midnight
Trying to place a bet on Keno,
In the first joint over Stateline,
Just a chip off old Jack Reno.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mmack March 5, 2021, 3:34 PM

    I like it Gerard, but I also like Webb Wilder’s warning:

    Neon lights don’t never dim
    In the kind of bars that never close
    In a back room game T. Jim yells
    “Saint Gabriel, I’m gonna steal the show.”
    He slapped his cards down on the table
    Said, “Boys, I got me a winning hand.”
    But the sight that made old T. Jim tremble
    Was the king that took his land.

    Mister, meet your new landlord
    Heard you knockin’ upon my door
    Mister, meet your new landlord
    Plenty of room down on the floor.

    With a ticket burning in his hand
    And the tip still ringing in his ear
    Big Pete bet his whole life savings
    As the race was drawing near.
    A shot was fired
    The gates flew open
    The years streaked right before his eyes
    Too bad they were riding on a saddle from the moment of ill advice.

    Mister, meet your new landlord
    I heard you knockin’ upon my door
    Mister, meet your new landlord
    Plenty of room down on the floor.

    Other names and other places
    Different rules, but it’s all the same
    Cause If that bug ever bites you
    The scar will bear you shame.

    Hey listen, son, you know you’re in trouble
    When you wake up one morning in a daze
    And as you peer into the mirror
    The face leaning over says

    Mister, meet your new landlord
    I heard you knockin’ upon my door
    Mister, meet your new landlord
    Got plenty of room down on the floor.

    Mister, meet your new landlord
    I heard you knockin’ upon my door
    Mister, meet your new landlord
    Plenty of room down on the floor.
    Hey, mister, meet your new landlord. Whooo

  • ghostsniper March 5, 2021, 5:38 PM

    That was catchy mmack. By the 2nd verse I had the Nomad in hand and picked it up right off. Lots of room for improvising in that one.

  • jwm March 5, 2021, 7:48 PM

    This one brings to mind another work, entitled, “Original Sin” by the same master poet. Both pieces are begging for a musician equal to the task. Somewhere there just has to be a genius at melody who just needs lyrics…


  • James ONeil March 6, 2021, 11:32 AM

    Never draw to an inside fate.

  • Vanderleun March 6, 2021, 1:11 PM

    And it’s O’Neil for the WIN!

  • BJM March 6, 2021, 2:50 PM

    I’ll meet that and raise you a Robert W. Service.

    A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
    The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
    Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
    And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

    When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
    There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
    He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
    Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
    There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
    But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

    There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
    And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
    With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
    As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
    Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
    And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.

    His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
    Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
    The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
    So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
    In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
    Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.

    Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
    And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
    With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
    A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
    While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars? —
    Then you’ve a hunch what the music meant. . . hunger and night and the stars.

    And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
    But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
    For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
    But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love —
    A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true —
    (God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, — the lady that’s known as Lou.)

    Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
    But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
    That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
    That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
    ‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through —
    “I guess I’ll make it a spread misere”, said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

    The music almost died away … then it burst like a pent-up flood;
    And it seemed to say, “Repay, repay,” and my eyes were blind with blood.
    The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
    And the lust awoke to kill, to kill … then the music stopped with a crash,
    And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
    In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
    Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
    And “Boys,” says he, “you don’t know me, and none of you care a damn;
    But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my poke they’re true,
    That one of you is a hound of hell. . .and that one is Dan McGrew.”

    Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
    And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
    Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
    While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.

    These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
    They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch,” and I’m not denying it’s so.
    I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
    The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke — was the lady that’s known as Lou.