Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Chess Players
They sit in well-lit rows,
cufflinks sparkling over each battlefield
like stars.  Is this what God was doing
at Flanders, Stalingrad?

The wooden men click.  They're not fooled
by generals bargaining at tables.
They face each other.  They die.
Spaces split slowly open like craters, wounds.

The women are somewhere else,
harmless, beyond hope.
In here is a perfect celibacy
- knights without favours, castles bare of maidens.

Sometimes it ends in madness
- Steinitz challenging that
star-sleeved General to match His mere omniscience
against the mind of a chessplayer.

Time shrivels like an aging pianist's fingers
on keys where there are more harmonics
than atoms in the universe.
Yet nothing really happens

among these clocks and lights.
The end is scarcity,
winds howling over the chequered plains.
Imagine moving words

like platoons into their slaughter
- you'd never get literature!
Yet the chessplayers talk of beauty.
Sometimes they sigh like lovers.
-- Carol Rumens
Man, I love that poem. 

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