The Game


Albertus Pictor (1440-1507, “Death Playing Chess”

By Håkan Svensson (Xauxa) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Life and death, becomes a game

(it’s played for keeps)

study the board,

black and white

(in a world of color)

in a world of uncertainty


life and death,

black and white,

the stark focus of opposites,

sad, happy, quiet, loud.

Kings captured, castles fall,

we’re all pawns,

in the game

a draw

only delays the inevitable



This poem is for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge. The prompt words were: Game/Study/Sad/Loud/Become

For some reason, the image of the knight and Death playing chess in Ingmar Bergman’s movie, The Seventh Seal popped into my mind. Who know where these things come from?





30 thoughts on “The Game

  1. The game board reminds me of the day I took Curtis to the Hands On Children’s Museum where he tried to teach me chess moves. At age 7 or 8, he was so bored with my slow movements that he began playing checkers with the girl sitting at the next table.

    Who know where these things come from?

  2. Merril, starting my catch up before the weekend comes!
    This is a lovely standoff between death and life which really does well with the game of chess. I think it could be generalized with war as a series of “game” maneuvers mapped out.
    The eerie use of “checkmate” as inevitable was a great ending.

  3. Well done.

    From the moment we learn that it’s the actual endgame, we pretend it’s not… until we recognize there’s no avoiding it, when it becomes a matter of resignation… until we reach acceptance.

  4. The associations of the mind are amazing, Merril. I recently wrote an essay about my father and games because he always loved games so much. There is something very metaphorical about all game equipment, even the checkerboard/chess look as you mention.

  5. I enjoy your dark side! Your poem also reminds me of the haunting if Loftus Hall in Ireland about the devil engaged in a game of cards with humans. When the devil lost, he proved to be thin skinned and flew off into a rage. Hmm, I know someone orange who’s also thin skinned. 😉 Fascinating poem, Merril!

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