Every Move Has Its Value by Dawn Angelicca Barcelona

I know I have to practice if I want to get any better.
I have to learn the intimacy of seeing someone else
make the first move and then counter it properly.
In a way I look like I don’t know what I’m doing,
but actually have a long-term plan to come out
on top. At the top of my head, I can’t remember
the rules. Even now. I can only hear the sounds
of pulling the box out of the closet.
I hear the sounds of a woman not
paying attention to my moves. She’s on
the phone. She’s mastered her words.
She has always known the words
to make me feel like the best kid
in the apartment complex and
the only kid who should jump off
the rooftop. I imagine the next word
should be something that looks
like a failure. She doesn’t let me win.
She let me make mistakes while
she was busy on the phone. She
didn’t even know I had the chance to
make them. I like to mix up the letters.
I like to place them differently and try
new arrangements before I commit.

I jump into games that use words.
Where I can see them. Where I can
see the blackness of letters
engraved on cheap, soundless
plastic and watch them become words.
Watch them become words that
lead into other words. Words that
have a deeper connection to
each other because they share
and split letters. Because they
straddle each other. Because
they help each other flow.
The board becomes smaller
as the connections grow.
But the game has to end.
The letters stop coming.
The words stop forming.

And I want to start again,
clear the board,
shuffle the pieces,

Bio: Dawn Angelicca Barcelona is a New Jersey born-and-bred poet who graduated from Rutgers University in 2014. Her English honors thesis on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee inspired her to live and work in South Korea for two years where she worked for The Fulbright Program, teaching English to elementary school students and serving as the Editor-in-Chief of The Fulbright Korea Infusion literary magazine. Now back in the U.S., Dawn continues to write poetry and works on the talent team at MuleSoft in San Francisco.

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