Home > Poetry > Chess Piece Patterns
Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
AGNI 91 Journeys Relationships Youth
Chess Piece Patterns

I was never taught how to play
chess. At seven, I watched

my uncle position-play his friends
after his Amway presentations.

Dimensions of strategy, stretching
my mind six moves ahead

with pyramid impact, knotted
in my memory. I learned

most people I knew repeated
movements, chess pieces

within safe parameters, recurring
pawns and rooks, looped

by a yarn of life’s conditions,
compelled by fear, failure—running

when others were running
without hearing the gunshots

others heard at a Miami Bass
concert. A girl is laughing,

loving a boy in our high school
locker room—a train of six

boys follows. I blend
hidden against a dark corner.

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Mervyn Seivwright’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Santa Fe Literary Review, AGNI, The Trinity Review, Montana Mouthful Literary Magazine, iō Literary Journal, Toho Journal, and Rigorous Journal, as well as in Z Publishing’s anthology 2019 Emerging Poets in Kentucky. His work has also been commissioned by the British Museum in Ipswich, England. Born in London and of Jamaican lineage, he lives in Tipp City, Ohio. (updated 4/2020)

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