A game if chess

January 16, 2012
Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook,
the King, and your Lady,
move this pawn, this bishop,
and bring the Lady out,
this is how you move her, diagonal
to the edge, a four-move mate,
if the boys bite this bait, do not
play them again,

weakness is contagious.

No, I will not go easy on you,
no, you can’t take that move back,
stop fussing with your hair, inspecting
your reflection in the window, your flatiron
won’t uncurl your spine, straighten your chest plate,

See my opening? This is how wolves
lie in ambush, boys and their baskets of spit,
No, you may not watch Pretty Little Liars,
the television has a glass ceiling,
quit Barbie-thinking, tomorrow is no beauty pageant,
hold your Queen without judging her figure, only God
knows how wide to make hips that hold up a kingdom, this Lady,
tall, heavy life in your hand, tighten your stomach
to move her, she is my hope for you, she is, like it or not,
the fire for your fears of womanhood,

Yes, you lost again, scrape her off the floor,
wipe her crown on garments of the dead,
reset the pieces, this is how you come into your own,
own this board, boxlike, upended,
the heart waits, and waits more.

glorious behind sewn skin of mistakes,
sit up and stop guessing, self-esteem
is four moves away, the endgame
is your responsibility, watch me,

watch your mother, watch how I hold my queen, nimble
between two fingers, not in a fist, watch how I kiss
her when she returns from work, how I bless our table
with home cooked meals, how I hold her hand to say grace,
nimble, thumb over her palm in love,

her callouses are maternal and softer
than the shiniest hair, flower petals I stroke,
your mother doesn’t take s***,
although your father left, my king is here.

Watch these boys, count how many times
they lick their lips, if you see it coming,
it’s coming, My mother didn’t know she
was a queen, my father called her a b****,
he taught me this, that his queen was b****,
expendable, I pretended this was acceptable,
and my mother never saw it coming,

move when you see it coming, ignore potential
and his knuckles gnawing on the other side
of a locked door, he will do it again, calculate risks,
what will you lose to keep this piece, what peace
are you willing to lose to keep some boy?
timid girl, holding pawns like kings,
boys are not men at birth and all men are not men,

never play for kisses or let them win for favor,
win or lose, you will always lose, you play like a knight
is coming to save you, as if sniffing dogs ‘round your locker
deserve your ruby heart in their bowls,
play to win, and no, you’re not allowed to date anyone
that can’t beat you at chess,

don’t be my mother, don’t make single mother
of your Lady in project housing, a heap of crumbs for roaches,
that boy and his red palms, sexting, is my father incarnate,
flea-scratching without a tomorrow,

Remember your mother, her stretch-marks
are claw marks of her body letting you go,
an ambitious scream wanting more for your life,
like boys are so, like, last year and men
that can’t beat you at chess
ain’t worth the salt in sweat.

this game means a waste of pretty
if you keep strength a secret, hit first,
cry seldom, losing is the womb, blood-filling
for your daughter someday, unlock your caged tongue,
say it all, and if anyone suggests you
bring out your b****, let them see how masterful
a lady cuts.

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