John FitzGerald

 

 

(USA)

 

 

 

Chess

 

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.

                                                                                                 –Rilke

 

 

 

The Game Begins

 

I am not as good at chess as I dream. More a poet at it.

But the pre-beginning creates itself right after the beginning.

It’s ironic, because the beginning has to happen first,

the former being timeless.

 

And it’s no judgment, to call the pre-beginning timeless.

It simply follows its own rules. Go back to when we first

agreed to play. “Let’s set up the board,” we said,

and moved the pieces into place, part of the game.

 

We can’t just start with everyone scattered.

Positions must be occupied. Otherwise, when can we say

the game began? A few weeks ago when we both discovered

we knew the rules and said we should get together?

 

Of course not. The game began after the pieces were set.

That way we agree upon an official beginning.

And if the beginning is first, the pre-beginning is zeroth,

because it came before the first.

 

 

From Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

First published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology

 

 

 

The Board

 

What happens to one cell affects the whole.

The body affects the place in which it dwells,

and the place affects the earth, the stars, and so on,

back to the equivalent of before the game began.

 

Here is law in action:

What happens above happens below.

When I say whole, I mean everything,

evolved together with its place.

 

On the board position is specific.

Each piece enforces to its degree. No two on the same square.

And the power of any piece is more than ability

to take another out of play. All have that.

 

A Pawn can regard the Queen and mate the King.

The key is to get in and out of the way.

To take up space.

Divert.

 

 

From Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

First published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology

 

 

 

The King

 

A king is hardly better than a pawn,

except it can backpedal, step aside.

Stands a head taller, in its crown,

to be checked, but never taken.

 

Taken means removed from the board.

Generally, for the rest of the game.

That is to say, for life.

No starting over to the pieces,

 

with one exception:

A pawn that fights

to the very last row promotes to any piece it pleases.

Except another king.

 

 

From Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

First published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pawn

 

A pawn can never step back,

nor to the side,

leaving no place from grid eight to go.

It just stands there looking over the edge.

 

Of course it is transformed by that.

Can be rook if it wants to, bishop, or knight.

Maybe even another pawn,

back at the beginning of life.

 

And it wouldn’t be stupid, to be itself again.

For a new pawn to pop up where it began

and change the whole direction of the contest.

So sacrifice a piece to win, because mate is the object.

 

The king must always stand.

If he lies down the kingdom is taken.

The question is whether he can keep

another in its square.

 

If he cannot move,

he’s like a pawn.

And then what queen would have him?

He can’t even turn into anything.

 

 

From Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

First published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology

 

 

 

The Queen

 

 

She can move in any direction,

but can’t break the boundaries of the grid.

None can.

No leaving the field.

 

And even though the board is preset at the beginning,

it morphs into countless situations.

I cannot say for certain if it’s finite,

though the plane itself has edges.

 

But if the big bang is an explosion still expanding,

those most ancient, outermost parts lead

to John describing this, then continue

on ever more molecular levels of space inside and out him.

 

So no matter how random the point

something begins from seems to be,

there becomes, that moment and thereafter, the pre-beginning,

like a chessboard set for the very first move.

 

It makes no difference that the start is arranged,

that it’s “set up,”

that there’s a beginning and an end.

That life lasts as long as the game continues.

 

To measure time we pick a random moment to begin.

Light moves.

There is no point in being light if you don’t.

The dark it moves into reveals itself.

 

 

From Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

First published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

BIO

 

 

John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor, and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review.

 

He is the author of Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014), Finalist for the Julie Suk Book Award, The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011) semifinalist for the Alice James Book Award, Telling Time by the Shadows, and Spring Water.

 

Other works include Primate, a novel & screenplay, and the non-fiction For All I Know.

He has contributed to many anthologies, notably Plume Poetry, Vol 5 (Plume Ed. / MadHat Press), Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry (2016), Human and Inhuman Monstrous Poems (Everyman), Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (Salmon Poetry), Rubicon: Words and Art inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis (Sybaritic Press), and From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (Sybaritic Press).

 

Other publications include The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, The Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, December Magazine, From the Fishouse, Mad Hatters’ Review, Barnwood Mag, and The American Journal of Poetry.

 

 

 

 

Links:

 

Favorite Bedtimes Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014)

 

 

http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=322&a=194

 

https://www.amazon.com/Favorite-Bedtime-Stories-John-Fitzgerald/dp/1908836709/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=D0S73K6RTF95V2FC9RFS

 

 

 

 

The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011)

 

http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=218&a=194

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Salmon-Poetry-John-FitzGerald/dp/1907056602/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=D0S73K6RTF95V2FC9RFS

 

 

Painting of John FitzGerald by Don Bachardy

http://www.donbachardy.com

 

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