Playing Games

Musical chairs makes feeling left out

a game. One chair

less each time. The band strikes up. Lift the needle.

The music stops. Sit. Souza. Mozart. It doesn’t matter.

You get knocked off the seat.

The winner’s alone, a king in the kitchen, for a minute.


Old Maid. War. Hearts. Racing Demon.

Dummy at bridge: watch the cards.

A full house. Call my bluff. Are you in or out?

Solitaire. Free Cell. Empty Nest.

The mind, warned not to wander, always does.


You’re a GHOST, in the car, when you spell

the last letter of the word.

You’re out, no one speaks to you

for the rest of the ride.


Counting games. Hopscotch. Horse.

Dodgeball. Stickball. Double Dutch.

The back court, the bench. The back stretch.

It’s a horse race. A dog’s life.  Greyhounds

chase mechanical rabbits.


The organ grinder man, the organ grinder man

we all want to be the organ grinder man,

mother sang, her voice louder, softer.


We were hotter and colder as we crept,

or lunged, intent on the hidden toy.

Why did we want to be the organ grinder man?


And who was he with his little monkey on a chain?

Wasn’t he a stranger, a man we weren’t supposed to talk to?

Why did we want to be him?


A fret. A guitar pick. Pick up game. Pick-up sticks.

Stop picking fights. Picked last. The stragglers.

Hoard your scrabble blank. Let’s pick a fight.

Let’s bash a pinata. Let’s dance.

Do or die on London Bridge. All fall down.

Mother may I? Giant step. Step on it. Who’s left?

How do you want to play it? Step up to the plate.

Can’t you see I’m dying here?  Throw me the ball.

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