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Poet Sebastien Wen


Sebastien Wen – Ballad of the Gambler’s Shadow


Ballad of the Gambler’s Shadow

New York, 1971

In my version of a beautiful lie, my kind of reality
we lock ourselves up in some dim-lit nowhere hut
strapped to the Yukon and just make love like it’s
hard labour, ’til out bodies are honey and raw

and in the evenings we play each other’s guts out
like mind-knives doing a death-waltz in this thickness
of the black. No limit, PLO, Open Face Chinese,
Fantasy Land, Chess, Backgammon, Rummy,
we let language drip into game theory
and then stick our tongues deep in our gifts

Sometimes in the mornings you blare hot blues
on the steel harp while the sun smokes and rises hard
over the teeth of the freezing mountains
your notes twist and twitch in the wind and I watch
your neck like I’d watch the player on my left
checking out the hand the dealer gave him
on the short-stack

That’s what my beautiful lie looks like

Only problem is
I don’t you know who are
I doubt you’d even wanna move to the Yukon
you’d probably be all bitch n’ moan
about the mosquitoes and the grey food

You ask me
“Why would you ever want to leave New York anyway?”

and I admit to you that I’m just too soft for the city.
cardshark who can’t swim. I beg myself to find
the land and slip my shade. Why’d I even tell you?
Why’d I try? Why’d I even ask
if you’d come with me?


Sebastien Wen is a nineteen year old poet and spoken word artist based out of Vancouver. He is UBC’s 2013 slam champion. He was a member of the 2013 Calgary slam team. He has featured as a performer in numerous Canadian festivals. He studies Honours English Literature at UBC.


To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website here: