The Game of Life


Teachers say that it’s essential
to reach toward our full potential;
“Make the most of your credentials.
Re-define the providential.”

Life is a game that all of us play,
finding all kinds of dice on the way.
Some will be bright, some dull and grey;
brittle ones crumble and fade away.

They’re tricky blighters, the dice of life,
leading to bliss or riches or strife.
Some require sweat, others take time,
some promise dollars for less than a dime.

Kids blow dreams at birthday candles,
bones grows weak, flesh grows handles.
Ice cream drips from seaside hands,
beached eels writhe on drying sands.

Orang-u-tangs confront destruction,
Women pay for liposuction.
Councils order waste reduction,
Couples practice reproduction

Youths get drunk in ill-lit clubs,
killers shoot up schools and pubs,
Flash floods swallow humble huts,
arid sun cracks idle dust.

A trainee celebrates his rise,
another hungry baby dies.
Protesters wave their placards high,
Leaders whistle tunes and sigh.

Cryptic codes stain lip-sticked faces,
muscled athletes speed through races,
spiders clamber up a wall,
Governments rise, nations fall.

For silent death and wailing birth
cards pile high above the hearth.
Acquaintances and family friends
mark delivery at both ends.

History grows, inventing, repeating,
just as food precedes excreting,
just as farewell follows greeting,
ever creating and deleting.

Never-the-less, it’s preferential
to reach toward our full potential.
Make the most of your credentials.
Re-define the providential.


Written for The Word of the Day Challenge: Potential … a couple of days late. I’ll have to try harder.

©Jane Paterson Basil

32 thoughts on “The Game of Life

  1. You don’t have to try harder Jane, this is quite brilliant, such a fantastic read, there were so many poignant lines, and especially this stanza.
    “A trainee celebrates his rise,
    another hungry baby dies.
    Protesters wave their placards high,
    Leaders whistle tunes and sigh.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “I’ll have to try harder.” Genius!
    I enjoyed this Jane. I stirred views I have about self-help books, mostly that they begin from an assumption of one’s inadequacy, secondly, it’s one’s own responsibility to do something about it, and they ignore the social context of the human condition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Safar. I’m pleased that you spotted my reference to the remark so often seen on school reports; “Could try harder”…
      AND your comment on self-help books was very succinctly put, so I don’t need to add to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Strange thing about teaching, the teachers themselves are often dedicated to helping their kids reach their fullest potential, but the system is usually built for quite the opposite outcome. You cannot reach your full potential in most areas of life while being matched lockstep with all the rest. You’ve got to strike out more or less on your own, don’t you? At least, that’s how I see it.

    Beyond that, beautiful music! The imagery I’d die to create — well, that’s extreme and I’m a coward, but I’d certainly faint hard onto a naked concrete floor to create such imagery, and willingly so!

    Thank you so much for sharing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with all you say about teaching, but I’ll change the habit of a lifetime and resist having a rant.

      Thank you for your generous words, and also for disabusing me of an illusion. Let me explain: about three years ago, I went through a fainting phase. I landed heavily on a concrete floor twice. I took the egotistical view that the improvement in my writing was down to hard work, determination and natural talent, but I now realise it was thanks to the magical ability of concrete to knock the brain into perfect alignment for poetry.

      Liked by 1 person

Thank you for dropping by. If you have any thoughts, questions, treats or cures, you're welcome to drop them in the comment box.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.