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Poker! by Zora Neale Hurston

Copyright 1931 by Zora *[Handwritten: Neale] Hurston



Place--New York

Cast of characters-- Nunkie Too-Sweet Peckerwood Black Baby Sack Daddy Tush Hawg Aunt Dilsey


A shabby front room in a shotgun house.

A door covered by dingy portieres upstage C. Small panel window in side Wall L. Plain centre table with chairs drawn up about it. Gaudy calendars on wall. Battered piano against wall R. Kerosene lamp with reflector against wall on either side of room.

At rise of curtain NUNKIE is at piano playing.... Others at table with small stacks of chips before each man. TUSH HAWG is seated at table so that he faces audience. He is expertly riffing the cards ... looks over his shoulder and speaks to NUNKIE.

TUSH HAWG Come on here, Nunkie--and take a hand! You're holding up the game. You been woofin' round here about the poker you can play--now do it!

NUNKIE Yeah, I plays poker. I plays the piano and Gawd knows I plays the devil. I'm Uncle Bob with a wooden leg!*[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed out in pencil in manuscript.]

BLACK BABY Aw, you can be had! Come on and get in the game! My britches is cryin' for your money! Come on, don't give the healer no trouble!*[Handwritten: last sentence crossed out in pencil]

NUNKIE Soon as I play the deck I'm comin' and take you alls money! Don' rush me.

Ace means the first time that I met you Duece means there was nobody there but us two Trey means the third party--Charlie was his name Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game-- Five spot means five years you played me for a clown Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down Now I'm holding the seven spot for each day of the week Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik-- Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day-- Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay-- The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat The Queen, that's my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat-- The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he's goin' to wear the crown, So be careful you all ain't broke when the deal goes down! (He laughs--X'es to table, bringing piano stool for seat)

TUSH HAWG Aw now, brother, two dollars for your seat before you try to sit in this game.

NUNKIE (Laughs sheepishly--puts money down--TUSH HAWG pushes stack of chips toward him. Bus.) I didn't put it down because I knew you all goin' to be puttin' it right back in my pocket.

BECKERWOOD Aw, Y'all go ahead and play. (to TUSH HAWG) Deal! (TUSH HAWG begins to deal for draw poker. The game gets tense. SACK DADDY is first man at TUSH's left--he throws back three cards and is dealt three more)

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