My Concession

Charles Joseph Albert

Charles Joseph Albert

Writer and metallurgist living in San Jose, California. Father of three sons and author of five poetry collections, two short-story collections, and two novels.

I used to find it hard to lose at chess.
I'd watch in disbelief the check and mate,
think through the game and curse to find—too late—
I'd bought disaster with the bishop's press.

In school, a "C" would cause the same malaise—
that sick regret: "I should have studied more."
And when a date would dump me at her door,
I'd wander home in a second-guessing daze.

And even when I won, each victory—
the wife, the kids, the job—all seemed to come
with further obligations, as though some
Cosmic Law made winning contradictory.

It's hard to lose with grace, but now I try—
the stocks that bombed, the failed manuscript—
my fault was cursing every time I slipped.
A win is just a loss postponed until you die.

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