“Ghazal of the Game” by Mark J. Mitchell

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Ghazal of the Game

A screen shapes itself into a chessboard.
Pawns pray to stand on a wooden chessboard.

She plays a violin all afternoon at the sky
then stops sharp, before a rest. Bored.

Children are ordered into straight desks.
They must face towards the test board.

An empty president reviews rows of young men.
His draftable bones didn’t impress the board.

Foghorns warn towering ships. Tides swing
wide. One by one they load the guests aboard.

You sit very still, hand hovering on a bishop
as if you’d leave your mark on this chessboard.

Mark J. Mitchell
was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. He is very fond of baseball, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he makes his meager living pointing out pretty things. He has published 2 novels and three chapbooks so far. Titles on request. A meager online presence can be found at

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