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Why I Don't Write Poetry -- "Zugzwang und Zwischenzug" (circa 1994)

Yes, I've taken more than one creative writing poetry class in my life; I think they're fun, but I'm by no means a poet. And yet here's a poem that just won't die. My droogie Vikram has posted it to different Internet sites over the years, and so it's still out there. Did it really leave such an impression on him that he continues to feel the need to share it with the world?

When it was originally being reviewed in class, one of the girls in class said: "This sounds like you're trying to be pseudo intellectual." Well, really. Does anyone "try" to be pseudo intellectual?

Not me. I just had a number of things working against me. 1) I was young, 2) I knew I couldn't write poetry, 3) I liked German, and 4) I played chess. Put it all together, and you end up with the following poem.

"Zugzwang und Zwischenzug"

- Freedom or love: which do you choose?
Pretend for a moment that Life is the Let's Make a Deal game show,
and the God is none other than his Holiness, Monte Hall.
Imagine further that He presents you with the following offer:

- Will you take this tiny little box of love?
Will you go for the door which leads to freedom?

If you take the box of love, you must make that box your home.
But it looks like such a small cell -
who would want to make their home in such constriction?
So maybe it would be wiser to escape through freedom's door -
and not worry about love at all.
But then you would be homeless, loveless, lonely, and exposed.
Freedom and love prove to be pejorative unless taken together.
What do you do when you're caught in zugzwang?

- Freedom or love: Which do you choose? We're awaiting your reply.

"I guess... I guess I'll take the tiny box of love."

[Bells and sirens go off, reminiscent of East L.A. after Rodney King.]

- You're in luck! Since you picked the tiny box of love,
you win the door that leads to freedom as well.
Had you chosen the door, then that's all you would have gotten.
Thank you for playing our game! Zwischenzug!
Love leads to freedom, but freedom does not lead to love.
That deceptively tiny box is in reality quite roomy.
Big enough to contain not only love, it also admits access to real freedom.
For in that tiny box of love is the key to freedom's door,
and the key to happiness.

(18 June 1994)


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