[lit-ideas] Re: The 11th Hour

  • From: Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 02:07:04 -0400

>>Geometry’s a mug’s game. I give him a dollar. Big man
from out of town. Living a distant life.

How about a dollar for a game of chess?


Thirty-two pegs scuffle to an unattainable prize.
For the novice, a simulated tradition of combat;
For others, an if-then rabitting from hole to hole,
For those worn to struggle, a zone of obligation,
an icy dancing hive, an elaborate protocol.

Such a shame to spoil it, that starting balance, by a
crude asymmetry, that first move marring its future
with brute focus, a stab in the dark, desire choking
the blind scope of sequence from tranquility.

But what's done is done. We have to have a move,
a world, a game, a life, an order to our dying.
Call it time or an agreed intrusion, call it a story.

Each opening is a personality, a language like class or fate.
Push twenty moves deep and you have what you asked for --
a position, a style of play, a portrait of decisions complete
with badge of office, allies, church, wife, and home.
It's your education, your friends, and your maturity.

All the book moves end, and whether you forget the rules
passed by others or innovate, you set foot in a bloom not
unlike the present, a tradition made of your middle game,
an accounting for taste crisp as leaves on withered grapes.

Your choices slow as they narrow. You work the material
at hand, the advantage or discomfort. Heraldry thins as
geometry shows its gray edges. Fewer options for brilliance
announce that you are more at ease with your legacy.

By now it's a question of avoiding mistakes and counting,
of clinging to the adventure that brought you to this deserted
wooden terrace, its skeleton of square hopes pushed forward.

You do the math of pawns. Outcomes don't wait for a logical
joke, an endgame, the blind technique of summing up.
When choice departs, a prize falls in that hope, its color.

All games are abandoned for others. Thus our love:
Risks of ugliness or error were only annotations,
rules of a conversation, the memory of other games,
rules playing on silence.

(c) 1998 Eric Yost

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