My Father's Game...

for Dad

The chessboard hides beneath the old Arby Bennett place.
Cross-armed and kneeling farmers, pawns, hold their stations.
All eyes check her, the Queen, who for once in her woebegone life
won something, and not just anything but a new Massey-Ferguson.

Her regent, always close, beams as his hand rests on the prize.
She is handed the kingdom’s keys, but he is still the King.
Her youngest, the Knight, grins with arms in an “L”
and a horseman’s stance – my goodness, mama.

All eyes attend the Queen, that is all but two –
the Bishop’s…the older brother’s…yours.
You’re looking directly at the camera.
What do you know that they do not?

Do you know that in less than a year
the King will sell her prize for safe passage back to Texas?
Do you know that all the King’s horses and men and tractors
could never rut much in Logan, Kansas?

Or did you realize, even then in ’54, that your family’s blitz
would be twelve moves in your dozen years of public school,
and winning is for tractor giveaways,
but enduring is the name of the game?

And so you smiled.


  1. This is tender, John. Way to step into Dad's shoes for a bit.

  2. Janna hit it: tender.