Check-Mate by a Pawn

for my sons

We parry, thrust:
This game of wits,
Where each pawn must
Deflect your hits.

My mounted knight
Skips overhead,
First back, then right;
Your knight is dead.

But you riposte,
With bishop swift,
My rook, engrossed,
Forgets to shift.

And then, I spot
A yawning crack,
The perfect shot
For my attack.

I strike so hard
At your regime,
But you bombard
Each best-laid scheme.

We soldier forth
To launch each quest,
From South to North,
And East to West.

Until it’s down
To king and queen,
To seize the crown:
A dreadful scene.

You’re cornered now;
You have no chance.
Or, . . . anyhow,
Not at first glance.

But then one pawn,
Forgotten, small,
Advances on
My castle wall.

He checks my king
And wins the game;
Oh, what a sting
When pawn’s to blame!

 

Polyphonic Reverie

for my daughters

Weave for me tapestries, finer than lace,
Spun by your voices, embroidered with grace,
Threaded with melodies in every piece
Harmony, euphony, hold and release.

Wrap them around me when eventide falls,
Songs that lend warmth to these shadowy halls,
Every part woven to keep out the chill.
Spin for me patterns of music, until, . . .

I can remember each beautiful face,
Angels who harmonized here in this place,
Now scattered far, but whose voices still weave
Fabric of music that never will leave.

 

 

Amy Foreman hails from the southern Arizona desert, where she homesteads with her husband and seven children.  She has enjoyed teaching both English and Music at the college level, but is now focused on home-schooling her children, gardening, farming, and writing. Her blog is theoccasionalcaesura.wordpress.com

 

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29 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Both poems are very well done — the first for its startling use of dimeter, the second for its dactylic rhythm. My only suggestion in “Polyphonic Reverie” would be the removal of both the comma and the ellipsis after “until” in line eight. This is an example of over-punctuation, which is unnecessary when you are enjambing over to the next quatrain. You can enjamb from quatrain to quatrain without the obstacle of punctuation.

    Reply
    • Amy Foreman

      Thank you both, Joe and Joseph, for your kind comments. I believe you are right about the comma and ellipsis, Mr. Salemi, and I will correct it in my own copy of the poem.

      Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    Amy,

    Clever and creative as always. Your Polyphonic Reverie cries out to be sung. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that you have already set it to music. As for me, music played in my mind even as I read it for the first time! Now that the song is in my head, I expect to enjoy the poems message and melody for the rest of the day.

    Reply
    • Amy Foreman

      Thank you, James, for appreciating the musicality of this poem celebrating music. I would love to score it for voices someday, though I haven’t yet, and I would also enjoy hearing the music it inspired in your mind!

      Reply
  3. Michael Dashiell

    Your chess poem is brilliant and witty with short lines and excellent rhymes. Your other poem about your daughters is lovely.

    Reply
  4. Michael R. Burch

    Two very nice poems! I believe the first poem may be over-punctuated in places. For instance:

    And then, I spot

    For me the meter of the second poem pretty much fell apart at this line:

    Now scattered far, but whose voices still weave

    You’re welcome to submit poems to the online literary journal that I edit and publish, The HyperTexts (www.thehypertexts.com). If you’re interested please reply to this comment and I’ll explain how to get in touch with me.

    Reply
    • Amy Foreman

      Thank you for these comments, Michael. I agree with you about “And then I spot,” and will change it in my copy. I also understand the breakdown in meter you are referring to, though I’m not sure how to change it, at this point. I’ll have to think on it. If sung, it works well, but if read, you sort of have to slow down for that line.

      Appreciate the welcome to your online literary journal. Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Mark Stone

    Amy, Hello.

    The first poem. 1. The poem is great fun! 2. The title includes the word “Check-Mate,” but my Websters New World College Dictionary has “checkmate” without a hyphen. 3. Since in the game of chess, pawns do not actually deflect anything, I would change “deflect” to “deter” or “prevent.” 4. After “West,” I would put a comma instead of a period, since the stanza that follows is not an independent sentence. 5. After reading the poem, I’m left wondering why the King didn’t take the pawn, when the pawn put him in check. The pawn must have been protected by another chess piece on its team, but that point is not addressed. I hope I’m not getting too nitpicky! 6. I was totally with the poem until I got to the last line and saw that the “a” before “pawn” is missing. You could address that as follows:

    Oh, what a sting:
    A pawn’s to blame!

    The second poem. 1. I very much like the double rhyme: “still weave” and “will leave.” 2. I love how your verbs relate to tapestries and fabrics: embroidered, threaded and spin. 3. One way to address the meter issue in line 11 is: “Scattered afar, their sweet voices still weave…” 4. After reading both poems, I said to myself: “Wow. These are really good.”

    Reply
    • Amy Foreman

      Mark,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my poems. You are right on “checkmate.” I should have checked (pun intended) on this before submitting! As far as “deflect” goes, Google’s online dictionary gives the following definition: “cause (something) to change direction by interposing something; turn aside from a straight course,” which I think could apply to many pawn moves, so I might leave that as is.

      Your number 4 comment is correct. There should be no period there, and I almost think I could leave it without any punctuation. Several of those who have commented have mentioned an overuse of punctuation, and maybe this is a place where it could be eliminated.

      I had to chuckle at your #5 comment. Yes. the pawn was guarded; otherwise my poor king would have taken him out forthwith! And I like your idea about the last line, so that the article “a” can be included.

      Thank you especially for your excellent suggestion on “Polyphonic Reverie:” “Scattered afar, their sweet voices still weave…” I could even say, “Scattered afar, yet their voices still weave,” which might make the dactyls smoother still.

      I truly appreciate the constructive suggestions and comments given to those of us who publish poetry on this site. Allowing poets to respond meaningfully to each other’s work the very day it is published is one of the best features of the SCP, and many of the recommendations and analyses given lately have been extremely detailed and helpful. Thank you to everyone who takes time to encourage and help their fellow poets.

      Reply
      • Damian Robin

        Hi Amy, versatile in deed, indeed.
        quick comment:
        “Scattered afar, their sweet voices still weave…” I could even say, “Scattered afar, yet their voices still weave,”
        Please put it in your notebook as the first one. The long “sweet’ may cause a flutter in the pace, but it adds to the assonance with the end rhyme. — This is probably what slows it up, as well as being a long syllable but nicer harmonics to my ear.
        Good to hear that you sing it!
        Do you have a visible rendition or audio? Be good to see/hear.
        Nice pic. I didn’t realise your ‘kids’ (my word) were so growed up.

      • Amy Foreman

        Thank you, Damian! I like your thoughts about the assonance with “sweet” and “weave.”

        As far as singing this, James Tweedie actually sent me his impromptu musical expression of this poem, which is beautiful! So, the next time my daughters are all together, I’ll hope to get them to sing/record his arrangement . . . and then, maybe, Evan will post it or I can post it here. 🙂

  6. Jan Darling

    Dear Amy
    I wish I were your friend. I smiled as I enjoyed your witty first poem and was swamped by the love you wove so finely into the tribute to your daughters. They are fortunate to have such a loving mother. Thank you.
    Jan

    Reply
  7. David Watt

    Amy, your family must be proud of you for penning these lovely poems!
    I like the fact that you don’t limit your work to one or two standard meters. It is refreshing to see one poem in dimeter, and another, equally well written, in dactylic meter.

    Reply

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