ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue One, Jan. 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 49 of 73

WHAT YOU RECALL WHEN YOU'RE DIAGNOSED WITH COPD Poetry by JOHN S. BLAKE The pawn shakes between her fingers. Bishops forget their designated colors. Her cigarette ashes over the Queen. She loses repeatedly in under ten moves, but she never stops entertaining me, resets the board with quivering hands as I wheeze and rock, wheeze and rock, my face blue-ing. The ambulance, always on the way, vodka waits in the freezer for her throat and curses New York City traffic. Pawns shiver in her grip, freezing, only to lie down before my knight. I conquer center squares under the smoky haze of her Benson & Hedges like morning fog in Denmark, aftermath of the archers' fire. We play until the knock and stretcher, until the frightening sound of CBs. My breathing resembles a hurricane forced through a straw. Our chessboard buried beneath flurries of ash like pieces warred in winter. The first time I played chess sober, the pieces trembled through cold sweats. Smoking wasn't allowed on the psychiatric wing. A counselor suggested this the perfect time to also quit smoking. I have had six lung surgeries, forty years in emergency rooms, air hovering my cadaverous face, and still, the thought of playing chess without the grey stream of my mother's perfume seems blasphemous. What man gives up his mother? *We recommend reading poems with proper formatting

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