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~~a trilogy of glosas~~

Someone who waited for me among violins
uncovered a world like a buried tower,
its spiral sunk beneath all
the hoarse, sulphur-covered leaves.

—from “The Heights of Macchu Picchu”, Pablo Neruda,
in his epic, Canto General; translation by Waldeen


Welcome to the board game, Self Creation.
I am Spartacus—like you, a former slave.
I’m here to walk you through the spaces
and the rules. First, you choose a playing piece:
preacher, prisoner, jailer, free. I heard you right?
You’ve chosen free? I am surprised, since
all I’ve heard about you says you feel oppressed
by governments, economy has jailed you, and
you’ve smothered happiness to combat violence.
Someone who waited for me among violins

gave me your name, suggesting you were ready
for Self Creation. Hell, who am I to disagree?
All right, you’re free! That means you move
around, above, and through whatever contradicts
freedom. Confront, you lose 100 chips. Complain
(the hamster wheel), forfeit a turn. Smell a flower,
go again. Overstating what you think, demanding
others say they’re sorry flips you into preacher
mode…oh, look! You’ve won a super power,
uncovered a world like a buried tower.

Now, we’re into deeper levels. See those cogs
and screws? Play them wrong, you’ll drop
into this oubliette, forget we ever met, until
you see Kirk Douglas playing me. You’ll
scratch your head, think, what the heck?!
At this stage, every rise and every fall
is measured by emotion of the here and now.
Focus toward the joy, momentum must ensue.
Despair will do the same, except the game
will spit you out. A dizzied slug, you’ll crawl,
its spiral sunk beneath all

the free and moving parts you built
and played so well. At this point, I will
be what you have chosen to believe—a heel
poised to squash you. My creator, Howard Fast,
blacklisted as a red, he got the royal squash, but
flattened, grabbed the BE FREE card. Reprieves
lie under every tragedy, you see. Howie moved to
Hollywood, grew rich as shit. McCarthy, playing
jailer, to this very day, haunts and heaves
the hoarse, sulphur-covered leaves.

© Elaine Stirling, 2016
Author’s Note: I noticed, post-posting, that there’s an extra line in the 3rd stanza, which the handful of glosa writers will undoubtedly notice. I’m going to leave it…because I’m pretty sure that some glosa in my past was short one line, and these things even out.