Refusing To Acknowledge Checkmate
—a poem by Scott Wozniak

Refusing To Acknowledge Checkmate

Every day,
for hours on end,
I would play
chess with Dre.

Not once
did I beat him.

When we first met
we butted heads--
He wanted to know
why I wasn’t watching
the white boy’s T.V.

He thought I
was on some spy shit
and I thought I
was gonna get my ass kicked
by a 6’5” 260 lb. mutherfucker.

As days passed
we got cool.

He would loan me books
like “Cointelpro,”
“Dark Alliance,”
and “Live From Death Row.”

I would write poems
for him to send
to his girl
for less than I charged
anyone else.

We would spend all day
talking about life
before we met,
and our plans
for when we got out,
while he whooped my ass
on the chess board.

The day I came back
from sentencing,
there he was
pacing, waiting on me
to tell him the verdict.

I said, “They gave me
Nine years, dog.”

His face dropped,
he covered his mouth
with his hand,
and looked deathly serious,
asking, “Damn man, you ok?
You gonna be able to do all that?”

He was afraid
I was gonna kill myself
after lockdown.

I was happy
with my sentence,
considering a week before
they’d offered me twenty years.

But Dre was disgusted,
more upset
over my nine-year sentence
than I ever could’ve imagined
a guy facing charges
for seven murders being.

Scott Wozniak is a poet/chaos enthusiast living in Oregon. His works are widely published both online and in print. His first full length poetry collection, Crumbling Utopian Pipedream (2017), will be released later this year by Moran Press. To track his endeavors, follow @sewozniak on Twitter.