Bingo Ladies

Gray-haired gals meet twice a week,
Have their luncheon with the clique
At the Wendy’s in Coppell.
After they have talked a spell
Off to northwest part of Dallas
To the Giant Bingo Palace.

First they greet the Palace guards
Then select their lucky cards.
Thirteen at a time they manage—
More the cards, the more advantage.
Light their cigarettes and smoke,
Void of levity or joke.
In fluorescent light, like chalk,
Faces pale, they do not talk.
Sit with stern and steady gaze,
Each one concentrates and plays.

Bingo! On an Indian Star,
Blackout wins the pickle jar,
Bingo! On a Window Pane,
Bingo! On a Picture Frame.

Four o’clock, the games are done.
They compare what they have won
Smiling, bright, and pink of cheek,
Plan to meet again next week.
They drive back to where they dwell
To kiss their husbands in Coppell.



Mary Gardner is a poet living in Florida.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

35 Responses

  1. Mary Gardner

    Thank you, Tonia. It’s how I picture bingo halls.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Norma Pain

    This is a fun and descriptive poem of Bingo which I enjoyed very much. Thank you Mary.

  3. jd

    Loved it, Mary. Not a rhythmic ripple in its true portrayal of a large segment of ladies with time.

  4. Roy Eugene Peterson

    One of my high school friends, Sharon McDonald lives in Coppell, Texas. I am going to post this on FB for her perusal. I am sure she will love it, as do I for its portrayal of an event involving fun for ladies in particular. Fun read!

    • Mary Gardner

      Thanks so much, Roy! I hope all the ladies in Coppell get a smile out of it.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    These are expertly handled tetrameter rhyming couplets. Note also that the poet has set her section breaks at precisely the places in the narrative where one needs a pause. She isn’t constrained by an abstract need to keep the sections of equal length.

    I had a girlfriend who was an obsessive gambler. She sometimes dragged me to bingo halls. She was an excellent mathematician, and she would have ten sheets in front of her (I could barely manage two) as the numbers were called out. And she did not use any poker chips or other markers to keep track of the calls! She remembered all of the numbers on all ten sheets in her head. Mathematicians seem to have a visual control over numbers that most of us do not share.

    • Mary Gardner

      Joseph, thank you so much for your praise.
      I am in awe of your former girlfriend’s ability. I hope she brought her gambling under control.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        In games like Bingo where there is no skill involved, she did no better or worse than any other player. But in games where some skill and computation of odds were required (like blackjack, roulette, or craps) she tended to be a steady winner. She’d leave the casino with wads of cash stuffed in her purse or coat pockets. Her mathematical training served her well!

  6. Allegra Silberstein

    You tell a delightful story with lovely rhythm and rhyme. Thank you…Allegra

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Mary, I love the atmosphere you’ve conjured in the “Bingo Ladies” – Bingo is a very serious business indeed. I’m not a fan myself, but when I grew up in England, there were Bingo halls scattered all over the place, especially at seaside resorts where I was often taken by aunts who craved a game. I loved the humorous bingo lingo: “Two fat ladies – 88; legs eleven” etc. I expect all those catchy little phrases are banned now. Mary, thank you very much for my trip down memory lane!

    • Mary Gardner

      So true, Susan. I’ve seen the transformation as sociable ladies turn to serious once the games begin.
      I’m pleased the poem brought you back to England for a short time.

  8. Jeff Eardley

    Mary, I was in a band in the 70’s and we played clubs that did bingo. One night, we stole a bag of bingo balls, and in every club after that, we dropped an extra ball in the machine. There were riots when the “double” came out and no-one ever suspected us. Thanks for a so funny reminder of those days.

    • Mary Gardner

      Jeff, of all the bingo stories, yours is the funniest. I’d love to have been there to see your bingo ladies’ faces. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Adam Wasem

    You caught the tone of serious fun, as that is how it reads. My little quibble is I would have liked a little more of an acknowledgement of the transition from pale-faced stern concentration to smiling, bright, and pink of cheek. “At last their serious fun is done/Their faces brighten to what they’ve won/” something like that. Anyway, an entertaining slice of life, thanks.

    • Mary Gardner

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Adam, and thank you for the suggestion. I strove to contrast the severe fluorescent light of the bingo hall with the sunlight of the parking lot where they chattily compare their winnings, but I did wonder if the change was too abrupt.

  10. BDW

    A melody, not malady of the quotidian,
    a nice touch of the Metroplex from a Floridian?

    • Mary Gardner

      Thank you for the amusing couplet, BDW. I’m pleased that you enjoyed it.
      I set the poem in Dallas
      Because it rhymes with “palace.”.

  11. Margaret Coats

    A nice picture of a ladies’ day out, Mary. Perfect combination of talk time and something different to occupy their minds, all set within lively bingo hall details. I like the greeting of the Palace guards; elevates the participants to princesses! I certainly could not do as well with mahjongg!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.