David Spicer

David Spicer is a former medical journal proofreader. He has published poems in Santa Clara Review, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, Remington Review, unbroken, Third Wednesday, Yellow Mama, CircleStreet, The Bookends Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Gargoyle, The Midnight Boutique, and elsewhere. Nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart once, he is author of one full-length poetry collection, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press) and six chapbooks, the latest of which is Tribe of Two (Seven CirclePress). He lives in Memphis. His website is www.davidspicer76.com

THIS WORLD OF MEN AND WOMEN

 

When I was ten, my father taught

me the King faced his opponent’s Queen

 

at the game’s outset. I didn’t learn until later

that the Kings stared at each other, weak pieces    

 

dominated by the ladies who stood next to them.

In my life, I’ve ventured against men, picked

 

my battles with care, and won part of the time:

out-shouted a big-shot bully at a party,

 

ignored a loudmouth who baited me.

I was a mediocre tournament player: once,

 

I placed second to last in an Air Force round

robin, but that didn’t bother me any more

 

than a coach who never chose me to play.

I didn’t fall in love with chess: I’m inclined                           

 

more to listen to a folk song’s lyrics.

I see myself, not somebody on the opposite

 

side of a board, as my fiercest competitor

and avoid male challenges, like whooshing

 

balls through chain-link nets, or reciting      

poems in a slam against twenty males.

 

I prefer the company of brilliant women:           

those who talk about trips to the Arctic

 

or can name every wildflower in a field.

I don’t feel that sandpaper friction of rivalry.            

 

They live more gently than men programmed

by their fathers to take what they can any way

 

they can, whether chess rooks, or the number

of trophies they win for a golf team.

 

I’d rather be a passionate observer, but my father,

like many fathers in a beat-or-get-beaten society,

 

tried to instill competition in me until I walked

away and didn’t return. I’d rather listen

 

to Joni Mitchell’s rendition of Both Sides Now

 

or Leonard Cohen sing I’ll Be Your Man.