Friday, August 17, 2012

Playing with the Master

Chessboard by Anna Langova
Image from

I was completely taken in
By your opening gambit,
Not noticing the pawns
You were willing to sacrifice.
Your counterplay was genius,
Promising that the king
Would protect and cherish his queen,
But your maneuvers
Left my heart en prise,
Lost in a series
Of perpetual checks.
I foolishly forgot
The role of the queen
Is to protect her king,
Sacrificing herself if necessary,
And by the time I remembered
Even Caissa herself could not save me.

~~~ Note:  En prise is a chess term referring to a piece or pawn that has been left undefended.  Caissa is the goddess of chess.

~~~ This poem was written in response to my prompt over at Poetry Jam providing the topic of games.


Susan said...

WOW! A beautifully tight knit poem with a well-played extended metaphor and I love it!

I actually had to look up Caissa, because I thought it meant fortune, which it sort of does AS the goddess of chess. I love these lines, which, I suppose could even happen to a good chess player who is being seduced by a player:
"I foolishly forgot
The role of the queen
Is to protect her king
Sacrificing herself if necessary . . . "
I hope this only led to losing one game and not the entire tournament!

(I used a similar point in a performance art piece where Helen, Queen of Sparta, is sitting up in the clouds waiting for her hubby Menelaus to finish his foolishness in Troy. She is setting up a chess board and has gotten to the Queen, "She's the most powerful in the land, so O, O, of course. Everyone wants to get the queen." And then things get slo-mo and she turns into a bird (her dad was a swan) and things go on from there . . . sorry, I sure can talk!)

Brian Miller said...

i like how you mix in a bit of social commentary and a touch on relationships as well there....the game is a game...and when we lose focus, we find we have lost surely...

Mary said...

I would say that this poem packs a great metaphoric punch. So many are willing to sacrifice pawns to gain their own advantage! Sad that so often even the queens are sacrificed to the 'game.'

Margaret said...

Excellent fun, this. Indeed - chess is all about sacrificing (but saving the Queen, surely 'till near the end :)

Peggy said...

Excellent use of metaphor here! Very tight and just right!

Laurie Kolp said...

So many layers in this, Mary... I love it!