a game of chess & stories that still breathe

they eat fries with
mayonnaise & ketchup, foreheads wrinkled
into folds of concentration, bent
over the chess board &
the younger guy, coal black skin
makes smart moves,

across from them, the afternoon
washes soft upon us, as we share
beer and pizza and the fairy tales that
we forgot to tell or dream or think
don’t exist because we just can’t see them–

only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
and tumble drunk with unexpected magic–

from the speakers of the restaurant,
italian music “we could slow dance
on the street” you say, “no one
would care in Amsterdam–” a crazy city– &
i smile & watch the guys
pack up their game,
curious who won but can’t tell by their faces,

with a weird movement of the hip,
the black guy hobbles down the road
like he has fought a battle, one that left him skewed,

i think of Jacob,
how he wrestled hard and won, never being
quite the same again & close my eyes
to look at mine, just for a moment

.

my entry for OpenLinkNIght at dVersePoets and i’m posting from Amsterdam… will fly back in the evening and probably need a bit longer to catch up with you…but promise to be around asap..smiles

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75 responses to “a game of chess & stories that still breathe

  1. pretty cool scene that you caught…the guys playing the game would have surely caught my eye. i like how you bring it back to them in the end and really capture the one man…and th allusions to jacob as well…winning, at what cost? sometimes it does leave us rather banged up….then to mix that with your own personal experience and the talking of fairy tales and dreams….really nicely woven claudia…smiles…

  2. Lovely poetic observation of a tiny slice of life.

    I assume you’re working, yet still enjoying what you can of that crazy city. I was there many, many years ago.

  3. Pardon me if I was distracted by the food(been on a diet forever it seems) but I found a bit of symbolism there, I think–casual nourishment, excess, the artificial, and the struggle to fill up the inside. Your characters here are enigmatic, but also very real. Enjoy your travels,Claudia–I always do. ;_)

  4. Claudia.
    I read it twice just to immerse myself in the scene and the words.
    Love “pulling stories out of a blue whales throat ” your mind works in wondrous ways *smiles *
    have a safe journey home

  5. Claudia–especially loved this–o
    nly when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic–

    You are definitely a magical poet…

  6. Another great capture that becomes important to us just in the way you tell it. This has the ring of reality to it, but there’s something larger that makes us think about struggle and just going on. At some point we all have to close our eyes to the world to figure out what it is we’re seeing. I enjoyed this.

  7. Always drawn to a chess game, I like.

    “with a weird movement of the hip,
    the black guy hobbles down the road
    like he has fought a battle, one that left him skewed…”
    Who has never observed that phenomena did never ‘see’.
    Amazing writing as usual, Claudia

  8. Inside the struggles of everyday matches, you always find beauty and redemption. A tale of hope and renewal it seems to me, and as Hedge says … nourishing for the soul too.

  9. “beer and pizza and the fairy tales that
    we forgot to tell or dream or think
    don’t exist because we just can’t see them–

    only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic–”

    No one could simply invent a conversation like this one of times we see the tales because we are in them and their magic is within us. I’d like to imagine the two are dancing as the chess players pack up, but maybe there is stillness and silence. How else to close eyes and see one’s own battle?

  10. A peek into the lives of others is always very interesting… and rewarding at times. Your words pulled me in!

  11. love this for making me look:

    the fairy tales that
    we forgot to tell or dream or think
    don’t exist because we just can’t see them

    & i’ve never been to Amsterdam, but i’ve often thought, one could do most anything there…

  12. Oh Claudia, you have such a wonderful way of looking at the world and as I have said before, I feel like I am right there with you looking at the picture you describe. Wonderful work here tonight, and especially like that second stanza,

  13. Oh, Claudia, this is lovely.

    I recently read a book that has several scenes set in Amsterdam, so I envy you, and the fact that you were able to visit! I hope that you had a great time.

    I love this, a beautiful picture of the natural; but still, everything natural echoes into the supernatural, the battles we fight, and the price of those fights, and never being the same again.

  14. I love chess. I am very interested in what was had thru the straw:) And I like the circle, ending the chess players, and one combatant, hobbling off. Very very nice presentation.

  15. Chess games,pizzas, fries ‘with or without?’ , uncooked herring rolled over with cut onions, senior citizens throwing their lines in the many canals and throwing back their catch in the water, the many windmills and the many, many more bicycles! What great memories you rekindled, Claudia! Danke!

    Hank

  16. “only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic” that is just outstanding!

  17. Remember Amsterdam in the 80’s … it was one of the lovliest times of my life .. although some of it I do not clearly remember … except that it was lovely … I have been back a few times ( to buy “things”) …and it found it to be just as lovely … even the “Lady wWth The Red Shoe “in her window was still doing her thing … Love, cat.

  18. An evocative piece, wrestling with the angels. We are all both winners and losers, I guess, and if we guard our poker faces no one will ever have to know which we are at any given moment. I hope you slow-danced in the street, because it is all about the dance.

    You made me realize how little of Amsterdam I still have with me. Picketing the U.S. Embassy against the Vietnam War — that long ago — eating in a French Vietnamese restaurant where the cockroaches ran up the curtains at the window, but we were so young we kept eating and drinking. Anne Frank’s house. The incongruously pacid and beautiful streets and big trees and old houses along the canals… And a gin — I think it was — to knock your knickers off. Thanks for this one, Claudia!

  19. I thought of Greenwich Village, the park, the men playing chess…until I read Amsterdam. Your pen is a camera, Claudia. always taking that true picture, that slice of life, anywhere. I so appreciate your travelogues through life. Another good one!

  20. Amsterdam seems to have a lot culture that i would love to be a part of. I also love fries with mayo sometimes. Thank for making me hungry and grateful for the mind travel

  21. Love the fact that the poet in you travels the globe, observing, observing, and translating the hub-bub into poetics, the mundane into the profound, the absurd into symbolism; nice piece; good energy, hopeful, smiles. liked /only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat/.

  22. “i think of Jacob,
    how he wrestled hard and won, never being
    quite the same again & close my eyes
    to look at mine, just for a moment..”

    I’m looking at mine now too… wonderful write…

  23. Ah, I agree….no one would care in Amsterdam. It is one of those free cities that is nice to spend time in. I was only there once, long ago, and even then I felt that freedom…….. I’m glad you had your time in Amsterdam, and I hope it all good. I am back home now. Returned home today. Unlike you, I don’t seem to be able to write poetry while I am away. I hope I can get back in the groove again soon. So glad we met!

  24. whenever I read yours ..somehow the picture in the blog relates with it every time as if I am going through life’s mela and catching glimpses from it…..enjoyed…

  25. What a great title!

    Wow. The ending—comparing yourself to Jacob, remembering your own battle. Powerful.

    I also love this section:

    “only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic”

  26. Beautiful.

    only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic–

    My kinda poetry!

  27. Because we all know the best stories come from the throat of a blue whale…
    Ah, Amsterdam and the view from the terrace of the Westerkerk Church as all of the city lay at your feet. C’est magnifique!

  28. the use of the hip and the hobbling are great images that really speak to me, love the idea of war/battles here. Really nice job in subtle presentation of details, really painting a vivid and deep scene. Thanks.

  29. yep great details that add to the overall meaning and good flow – very enjoyable read that makes you want to come back for more – beauty and sadness, fantasy with reality always there at the edges and the inescable consequences of our decisions 🙂

  30. you have such an amazing ability to bring scenes and characters to life~ it’s those small quirky details. very nicely done.

    “mayonnaise & ketchup, foreheads wrinkled
    into folds of concentration, bent”

    what a great start~

  31. I hope you had a great trip. Like the part of your day you shared here with us… The chess players…winning not always everything and you closing your eyes. Love the descriptions 🙂

  32. I really like imaging different stories at each table and how you pull parts of them to your own. Every stanza feels like a wisp of breath with the movement in this game. I like the fairy tales and the slow dance just as much as the beer and pizza. In the middle of the city, with the music and the game, I like the solace in stillness at the end.

  33. You could picture the tables with your words, Claudia. 🙂 Nice.. the black guy hobbled away? Even chess is dangerous these days.. or is it wizard’s chess perhaps? 🙂

    Leo

  34. As ever, beautiful writing…I loved “we forgot to tell or dream or think
    don’t exist because we just can’t see them–

    only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat” ~ true, that 🙂

  35. I really enjoyed this snapshot from a lazy afternoon. I always wish I were better at chess – I’d get beat pretty bad by those guys at the parks. This part really made me smile:

    “only when we pull stories out of a blue whale’s throat,
    suck another through a straw from poisoned plants
    and tumble drunk with unexpected magic–”

  36. i wish i knew the term to describe your writing… if one even exists! always passionate, whether sensual or exhibiting a passion for life; always seeing life from a different angle that makes me wish i could see the world as you do.

    beautiful, claudia!

  37. “a game of chess & stories that still breathe”

    “they eat fries with
    mayonnaise & ketchup, foreheads wrinkled
    into folds of concentration, bent
    over the chess board…”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Once again, what a very descriptive poem [a moment]…and once again, I had to stand far away and then come up close to…exhale…
    deedee 🙂

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