A Chess Game by Paul Goodman

The chessboard was reflected in her eyes

Eager to bear her, first I looked in her eyes.

I made a Spanish move, an ancient one,

and broken was the red rank of pawns in her light eyes.

Then I lowered my eyes from that chessboard

and Love said, “Oh not her; conquer the king if you can.”


My eyes I lowered to the checkerboard

planted with lords in particolored fiefs.

My red soul hated the black chesspieces

And first my knights flew forth, to dominate.

I hovered over the pattern like a hawk

and Art said, “Do not win. The pattern is enough.”


Then the chess-game became luminous

and then I was not and then we were again,

and suddenly into the center came

of that luminous crisscross of mathematical

possibilities the Angel Fame

whose left wing was love and his right wing was death.


This poem can be found in the volume, The Oxford Book of American Poetry.

Think about how the poem made you feel. Do you catch yourself believing that love is a zero-sum game – that in order to win, another must lose?

May you live out another beautiful poem in the collection of your life today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

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