a bastard son from a bastard land, moored on foreign shores by fortuitous accident, bent on victory against eastern tigers, salivating over riches yet unimagined in the west…
Alexander, the great westernizer, knew
against the wind – Bobby knew
his terms, his opening salvos
prepared in secret, in delays,
in feints; by dealing first
in smoke, he could stoke the fires,
dip the arrows to weaken the ramparts,
dismantle the walls stone by stone
watched the action
on technicolor TV sets,
on telescopes, on kaleidoscopes
picked up second hand in Yugoslavia
- everyone saw it, the slow motion
train wreck in Reykjavik
Where was Spassky, meant to be the driver?
All signals said go, the fires stoked,
smoke billowing across tundra, Spassky
left standing on the platform
Poet's Notes: 1972. Iceland. The date and place spell chess to Americans. In the midst of a cold war, two combatants engaged in heated battles over 64 alternate color squares. An upstart from an upstart land challenged the domination of an ancient eastern game by revolutionary comrades. And won. Chess has never been the same, particularly in the United States.
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