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.