Archives for posts with tag: board games

steven cukrov
Playing Monopoly
by Arlene Geller

We were not a religious family
but when it came to playing Monopoly,
my sister and I were downright devout.

We played for hours,
adding candy pieces when we ran
out of hotels. And, when we pushed
our bedtimes to the limit,

we’d carefully slide the game board
under the stately legs of the round, walnut table.
A few quick throws of the dice, a running tally,
the first one of us awake would keep the game going.

The table was a protective canopy,
guarding our game and our connection,
a safe harbor in the stormy seas of childhood.

PHOTO: Monopoly Board Game by Steven Cukrov.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before I close my eyes to sleep, I sometimes set my intentions, such as if I need a poem title or if I want several images to gel into a poem. Often, the next day, I can gratefully accomplish what had been eluding me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet/lyricist Arlene Geller has been fascinated with words from a young age and is passionate about writing. Her poetry has been published in newspapers, magazines, and journals, including Better Than Starbucks, Tiferet Journal, The Penwood Review, The Jewish Writing Project, and White Enso. Her first chapbook, Hear Her Voice, will be published by Kelsay Books in 2023. Collaborations with composers include commissioned pieces, such as Voices Unfolding, selected as the class anthem for a commencement at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey; Elusive Peace, which premiered as part of Service of Lessons and Carols at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York; and River Song, featured in the world premiere of I Rise: Women in Song at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and performed in numerous national and international locations. Learn more about her work at

by Mike Keith

Through sentient, gauzy flame I view life’s dread,
quixotic, partial joke. We’re vapour-born,
by logic and emotion seen as dead.

Plain cording weds great luxury ornate,
while moon-beams rise to die in Jove’s quick day;
I navigate the puzzle-board of fate.

Wait! Squeeze one hundred labels into jibes,
grip clay and ink to form your topic — rage;
await the vexing mandate of our lives.

I rush on, firm, to raid my aged tools,
but yet I touch an eerie, vain, blank piece,
as oxide grown among life’s quartz-paved jewels.

Once zealous Bartlebooth, a timid knave,
portrayed grief’s calm upon a jigsaw round;
yet now he lies, fixed quiet in his grave.

Just so we daily beam our pain-vexed soul
with fiery craze to aim large, broken core
and quest in vain to find the gaping hole.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Keith is a freelance software engineer and writer of constrained prose and poetry, in which a literary composition is required to satisfy one or more lexical rules. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including several works of constrained writing, Not a Wake and The Anagrammed Bible. For more news and writings, visit


Each tercet (three lines of iambic pentameter with ABA rhyme scheme) in the poem above is formed from the set of 100 Scrabble® tiles, which consist of 98 letters (including all letters A-Z) plus two blank “wildcards” that can be assigned any letter. The poem is visually depicted using six sets of Scrabble® tiles, where the two blanks in each set are indicated by red tiles. In this challenge, we deem it quite permissable to use different letters for the blanks in each separate set of tiles (each stanza).

In this depiction, each line of iambic pentameter is split in two in order to keep the page from being too wide. In other words, the first line of the poem is really “Through sentient, gauzy flame I view life’s dread.”

Who is “Bartlebooth”, you might ask? Ah, this strikes at the very core of the poem. Bartlebooth is the jigsaw-puzzling main character of Georges Perec‘s massive constrained novel La Vie Mode d’Emploi (Life: A User’s Manual). Perec’s novel consists of 100 chapters with one blank (missing), modeled after a Paris apartment building with 100 rooms. The theme of missing things constantly reappears (e.g., Bartlebooth dies as the puzzle he is working on has a single piece-shaped hole).

Scrabble® has 100 tiles with two blanks, an almost exact replica of the structure of Perec’s novel. Hence, the desire to allude to La Vie in stanzas 4 (“blank piece”), 5 (Bartlebooth and his puzzles), and 6 (“gaping hole”). “Puzzle-board” of stanza two is also a reference — to the 10×10 knight’s tour involved in Perec’s work.