Summer 1986 • Vol. VIII No. 3 Poetry |

Two-Person/Zero-Sum

The serious boy playing himself at chess Always contrives to win, but subtly enough That his obliging loser across the board Will never realize what made him make The plausible insignificant mistake That would lead to loss in a dozen moves or so, Nor ever thinks to assign a face or name To the invisible other who is always there Accepting the consequences of his acts In stoical silence, subtly playing to lose To the self on the hither side playing himself. Thus do they even to the end of life.

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To Dante

By Howard Nemerov

The serious boy playing himself at chess Always contrives to win, but subtly enough That his obliging loser across the board Will never realize what made him make The plausible […]

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