An Ode to My Son

After Accidentally

Beating Him in Chess

 

 

 

My boy, I didn’t know the incidental check I put you in was mate.

You had me.

Your first, legit, truly-earned victory was certainly no more than a half dozen moves away.

It had been a beautiful, grand ballet of a battle.

Your early lead. Of a piece, and then two.

Me whittling your gain down to four, then three, then two lowly pawns.

And, then, your Queen, majestic, returns.

She, pinky in the air, will say “skadoosh” and vanquish me.

It is over. Assuredly.

Six years of playing, and you and I are moments from celebrating your first zero-help game.

I fantasize about skipping around the room, releasing all of this joy that has built up in my body, as I slide my lone rook down the aisle to your end of the board.

“Check,” I say knowing my parry will do little more than let you know I haven’t given up.

But you don’t move.

You are looking, staring at me.

I re-analyze the board quickly.

I see what I don’t think I can see.

You can’t defend it. You can not.

Oh, my God!

I have won.

Mistakenly beaten you.

A win neither of us wanted for me.

You sit on my lap.

We cry and laugh and flit back and forth between the two.

We share a feeling whose name I don’t know.

I hold your 13-year-old body in my lap as you tell me how much you hate me and love me.

Honest. Cathartic.

I know. I know.

I love you, too.

 

 

***

I send an early draft of the above to my friend Pierce D. They suggested I pair it with the following poem by Hafez which adds depth and God to this.

Also, on February 11, in the morning before school, he finally did it. He won. The picture above is from then.

***

 

 

TRIPPING OVER JOY

Hafez, I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.”

Becoming

Becoming

Setting the Stage    It is 8:42 am. I’m in the office overlooking NE Broadway and 18th. I have just unpacked my biker-style, faded, powder-blue backpack of: a computer an insulated water bottle a pear a diminutive 7.5 ounce can of Coca-Cola a pencil box a...

Shauna After Death

Shauna After Death

08/30/1998 Dear Diary,  I met the remarkable Shauna Jean Malone today.  And she is remarkable.  I can even prove it, Dear Diary.  Of course she’s remarkable! I’m remarking upon her right now, am I not? Anyhow, today is her birthday.  We were introduced at the Wren...

Road Rage and the Rabbi

Road Rage and the Rabbi

After a pause Jon continues:   “Then, I won at road rage a second time.”   I’m at the market shopping for the family Friday night, shabbat dinner.   I respond into my headset:   “A second road rage story? I’m not certain I have space in my psyche...

Tired From Fear

Tired From Fear

It’s Friday morning. I am sitting in the customer center of my local Honda dealership. There’s been a recall on our 2003 minivan’s passenger side airbag.  I’m waiting.  I’m not going anywhere. Literally.  I don’t have it in me to fight for the promised loaner car. My...

Annoyance 2 OK

Annoyance 2 OK

I arrived at the 97212 Post Office and there was no line. None. Zero. It was just me and two employees in the large, florescent-lit room. I stood where the line would have ended had there been a line. When Joanna called me up I responded, “Nope. I’m going to wait....

Meanie

Meanie

  Meanie   I wish she had been nicer. Her comments on my YouTube hurt. And, while I know her petulance made her look bad, it also still really really hurt my feelings.   Let me start with some background.   I am pretty fastidious about quoting my sources. It’s a rabbi...

Acceptance for the holidays

Acceptance for the holidays

I’ve just intentionally triggered the “not-being-prepared” collective nightmare within a group of adults. I feel their discomfort and defensiveness upon hearing my words: Let’s review our homework from last time. They didn’t have homework. How could they? Many I’ve...

Voltaire’s band

Voltaire’s band

LIFE AIN’T FOR COWARDS. GRIEF, LOSS, TRAUMAS ANDTRAGEDIES.DISAPPOINTMENT AND ANGST. SCAB OVER AND NOT FEEL?ORPICKED AT AND BLOODY? ME? I CHOOSE VOLTAIRE’S LIFEBOATVOLUNTARY BAND. “COMPTEZ QUE LE MONDE EST UN GRAND NAUFRAGE, ET QUE LA DEVISE DES HOMMES EST, SAUVE QUI...

Provincial, NYC.

Provincial, NYC.

It’s cold. Erev Thanksgiving. West 77th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, is closed off the night before tomorrow’s big parade. I’m 14 and running in the street with Robert, Dan, Michael, Richard, and John. We are tossing someone’s balled-up...

The 77% Weekly

Try for free. Always free. Directly to your in-box.

intelligent wisdom. real + funny. about life

Enjoyed by 1,000's of people. 40/52 weeks a year.

Becoming

Becoming

Setting the Stage    It is 8:42 am. I’m in the office overlooking NE Broadway and 18th. I have just unpacked my biker-style, faded, powder-blue backpack of: a computer an insulated water bottle a pear a diminutive 7.5 ounce can of Coca-Cola a pencil box a...

read more
Shauna After Death

Shauna After Death

08/30/1998 Dear Diary,  I met the remarkable Shauna Jean Malone today.  And she is remarkable.  I can even prove it, Dear Diary.  Of course she’s remarkable! I’m remarking upon her right now, am I not? Anyhow, today is her birthday.  We were introduced at the Wren...

read more

Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.


This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)