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Checkmate

by Therese Elaine

I cannot fight this
black pawn
propulsion
each
single
step
forward
is a non-combatant
compulsion
and you have rendered me
incapable
of side-stepping
your
intrusion
restricting my
counter/actions
to your
counter-balance
convolution
You always drew me
disproportionately
in stains
strains
and shades
of smeared
black
bad intention
Dispassionately
illustrating
this serpent-tooth scrimshaw
cutthroat chiaroscuro
damnation
I never earned these
soiled
spoiled
stiff-kneed
suppositions
as I'm left to shadowbox
with seamy underbelly
draw-the-curtain
propositions
And I am
blindsided
with your
binding moral machinations
now that you've
double-crossed me
with these evil-eye
superstitions
I lost the better angels of my nature
over a contractual dispute
and a dry-cleaning debate
for mixing
my whites
with
my dark
but I salvaged what was left
of my saving grace
and scavenged
the remains
of what's left to reflect
on where
my devils
left
their mark
I am done battling
the embattled aspects
of your dual personality
perforations
this was only ever
a war
in poor taste
With its cliched
variation
on the
good versus evil
colour scheme
and your
Soldier of Fortune
strategies
all gone to
waste
So I'm removing myself
from this scorched earth
field of play
and slowly
restitching
these scars
along now familiar
seams
And the board
is yours
and all of the
players
along with your
tactical
delusions of
grandeur
In the end
I win
with the only move left
to
me
the only one
you could never
predict


leaving.

01/26/2010

Author's Note: Upon pondering chess, the poor attempts at strategic manipulation by so many, and the ultimate revenge -winning the game in one move...

Posted on 01/26/2010
Copyright © 2020 Therese Elaine

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Melissa Arel on 01/26/10 at 10:34 PM

Geezus, Therese. This is one of those water-word poems where it just flows out and you can't stop reading it. I love the *tion words [convolution/damnation/perforation, etc] really tying it all together effortlessly. Wonderful.

Posted by Sandy M. Humphrey on 01/26/10 at 10:48 PM

Sounds like you did more than take down a queen here, the words are rich and the game references bring to life an embattled relationship...that is why I prefer checkers, you can jump and king me. smh

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 01/26/10 at 11:25 PM

I am hopeless at chess - you, on the other hand, obviously understand the strategy and have figured out the final solution. Well done.

Posted by V. Blake on 01/27/10 at 12:33 AM

Absolutely magnificent, Therese. I'm speechless.

Posted by Amie Golda on 01/27/10 at 01:38 AM

I love (and envy) the way your words just flow and that I can't stop reading either. Way to turn a strategic game into a metaphorfor life and its relationships! This poem not only shows your adeptness at chess (which I shall never garner), but your great skill as a poet.

Posted by Ken Harnisch on 01/27/10 at 02:49 AM

high-toned hip hop rhythm ( i could hear it in my head)building to a coiled heated energy with a bang of an ending that should frustrate any mind bent on narcissistic self-empowerment. After all, it's no fun to play with oneself, now, is it..:0

Posted by Nanette Bellman on 01/27/10 at 04:58 AM

What I'm about to say may not seem like a compliment but know, that's how I mean it. I love how his reads like one big long run on sentence, which is how my brain works. It is hard to stop once you start reading this. I love the chess reference and I love the "check-mate" you've given by leaving. Very smart.

Posted by Michael Smith on 01/27/10 at 07:05 AM

What I'm going to do is pretend I know what this is about, and in doing so, I'm going to amplify tenfold the significance and sharpness of this already decimating dagger-shaped poem.

"And the board is yours and all of the players along with your tactical delusions of grandeur" So awesome... The funny thing about you, Therese, is that you're such a wise, matter-of-fact earth-child that I can't imagine that anyone who conversates with you would deem you as requiring the sort of release or declaration that this sort of run-on poem can provide. Subsequently, everything this poem represents further enforces what I envision of you -- you are strength on top of strength, and a solid foundation for anyone to invest in. I hope those who really need more of this sort of inspiration in their life venture by and have a read.

As for some technical stuff, the 's' repetition really seals the deal, totally slicing us from head to toe, and everything is just so freakin' fine-tuned. One beauty for me is that most of the language in here is complex, but you've so skillfully or instinctively chosen the right words and/or lining that it flows like a freshly opened assassination wound. I think I would struggle trying to write in this style. Truly remarkable, Therese Boling.

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 01/27/10 at 02:59 PM

Strong stuff. Well played indeed.

Posted by Scott Utley on 01/27/10 at 08:31 PM

I love to read other poets then try to duplicate their style, my way of having fun, but never could I ever come close to this 'howling piece' - Reading Michael Smith's critique finds me nodding yes, yes, ditto ---

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 01/27/10 at 09:07 PM

Strong piece- well crafted. I could never understand chess- but whatdo I know; I'm too dumb to even know how to inhale!

Posted by Sarah Wolf on 01/27/10 at 10:48 PM

I love the way your poems always seem to have a theme to them. The end in this was especially appealing to me.

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 01/28/10 at 05:34 PM

Absolutely magnificent, Therese. I'm speechless is what Vince said. annnd i was thinking the very same thing as you wrested me some connections well-spoken. bowing in your direction for this piece.

Posted by Julie Adams on 01/28/10 at 09:26 PM

objectively reviewing this piece, I fell like this fountain of ashen lava sears the raw heart, and I truly loved every burning minute of it...you, dear poet, have a wicked pen and skills to match...love reading you, no matter the mood, topic, or scene...peace, jewels

Posted by Richard Paez on 01/29/10 at 02:16 AM

The first time I read this I was distracted, I thought it was good at the time but also thought something was missing. Reading it again, much faster this time but with much more concentration, I realize that the only thing missing was proper attention on my part. This is by no means the first chess-themed poem I have read, but it is certainly the first one I have read that stretched the theme into such effective and unexpected metaphorical shapes (hence the failure in my first reading: I didn't get the relation between certain images and terms to the chess-theme; now that I've reread it I see the relations and realize the genius of them: for lack of a better way of putting it, this is a chess-theme anti-love poem on LSD). “I lost the better angels of my nature/over a contractual dispute/and a dry-cleaning debate/for mixing/my whites/with/my dark” – this set of lines is so good the quality of it leaves me flummoxed: like many other parts of this poem (like many moments during an LDS trip) I want (need) to stop and concentrate, savor the parallels of movement, the interconnections, the fractal meanings. It also kind of drives me nuts that you could incorporate an image of something as mundane and even anti-poetic as dry cleaning and have it work so, well, poetically. And the ending – well – it's pretty much just damned perfect (I love how the speaker leaves the poem at the same moment that the player leaves the game – these meta-moments satisfy me greatly). Thanks for sharing this, Love.

Posted by Jared Fladeland on 02/01/10 at 05:34 AM

chess is an interesting analogy. chess has such a structure to it. things can only move in certain ways. if you apply that to love, that people can only do things to either get or receive love in a finite number of ways... makes life a little less wonderful

Posted by Charles M Harrison on 02/07/10 at 03:59 AM

I will never look at chess board the same way again. Wow, great read.

Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 06/26/10 at 01:16 PM

when you think about it. there needs be no other person in the world save one, that one person being ourselves, and all would be fine and dandy with that save when it comes time to play, we discover we cannot play ourselves because we play ourselves so poorly and so a worthy opponent is invented for us or we invent that person to play this game which we conveniently call love which is played benignly at first but then the serious players come onto that chessboard to make it anything but benign where there needs be a winner take all and that makes it serious business. Therese, when all the moves are said and done, this ode is clearly Victor Victoria Victorious.

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 06/27/10 at 02:09 AM

"You always drew me disproportionately in stains strains and shades of smeared black" unsure why...but this really hit me some deep place within. I'll be back to this when i come return to my senses =)

Posted by James Zealy on 07/06/10 at 09:55 PM

This strategy in its perfection once was described by Robert Ring who has written dozens of self help books, the chief of which is Winning Through Intimidation. Once of the premises is that you never go into a negotiation of anykind personal or professional without a briefcase strategy. Ie close the briefcase and leave if the negotiation is not to your liking. All relations are a negotiation of types, and there is no answer for this strategy. It is as you say the final winning move. If you actually leave, then you have not lost the investment in yourself, if you stay its own your terms and the power remains in your hands.

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 07/12/10 at 01:24 PM

yay!!! potd for you =)

Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 07/12/10 at 04:47 PM

Poem of the day!!! Hey, congrats!!!

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 07/12/10 at 08:17 PM

This one blew me away when I first read it. Fantastic to see it as POTD!

Posted by Linda Fuller on 07/12/10 at 11:39 PM

Let me add my congratulations :)

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 07/13/10 at 01:01 AM

i suddenly want to play chess with you, but i don't want to play chess with you. congrats on potd!

Posted by Glenn Currier on 03/06/11 at 02:11 PM

After reading this, I feel battle fatigue. It describes so well the vortex one can get caught in with someone determined to manipulate - to try their best to keep you in their clutches. But I especially delighted in your last move. Thanks for this clever and creative piece,Therese.

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