Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Galleywinter #53 - Richard Jones


I don’t play with any ferocity—
no intensity of intellection
as I lean over the chess board,
no squint-eyed, sullen raptness,
no killer instinct, no thrill of war
as I square off against an opponent.
Rather, I enjoy the soothing silence
and the cold martinis we slowly sip,
the occasional bit of conversation.
The game is a mystery of secrets—
my pawns are quickly sacrificed
and soon the knights and bishops
all find themselves in jeopardy.
Before long I’ve lost my queen
and it is only a matter of moves
before my opponent says check
and checkmate. But then I say
let’s play another, shall we?
A new campaign gives me hope.
I shall be shrewder, cleverer,
more zealous to defend my king.
I lift my right hand dramatically
and move the first pawn forward.
I hold my breath. What will happen?
Defeat is a good teacher, I know,
but just once, after a dozen brilliant
strategic moves, I would like to shock
a worthy adversary, and quietly say,
as the world champion once said,
“Bishop to King 7. Checkmate,”
before getting up to freshen our drinks.

Richard’s newest collection is The Minor Key (Green Linden Press, 2021). Other recent collections include Paris (Tebot Bach, 2021), Avalon (Green Linden Press, 2020), and Stranger on Earth (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Editor since 1980 of the literary journal Poetry East, he curates its many anthologies, such as London, The Last Believer in Words, and Origins. In 2020 he published his 100th issue, an anthology titled The Bliss of Reading.

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