Widower Jones

or

The Chessmaster

I once knew a man, a tired old man

Who was barely but skin and bones

And a sweet, gentle smile that lasted a while

By the name of Widower Jones.

-

All kindness was he, and grandfatherly

To all of the people he'd known

And he seemed as a child, so loving and mild

Was dear old Widower Jones.

-

Yet those sweet, kindly eyes held a fiend in disguise

Who on wings of sheer cunning had flown;

Who would gladly say yes to a good game of chess

Were it asked of Widower Jones.

When starting this fight, he always chose white,

Like the color of Death's dreaded bones

He was sneaky and sly, with a discerning eye,

That tiger named Widower Jones!

Like a tailor, he'd stitch out a pattern, then switch

To a trap, to get your king alone,

And you'd haven't a choice but to hear his soft voice

Call a checkmate for Widower Jones.

-

He had done this for years and showed nary a fear

That one dark day, he would be dethroned

By a quiet young man with a slow, gentle hand –

The heir of Widower Jones.

-

Oh, their battle was long, and both were so strong!

Such tense fighting, no soul had yet known!

And all time seemed to slow, and the air seemed to glow

'Round the youth and 'round Widower Jones!

-

Both defended and fended, but war soon was ended

By one cry, as cold as a stone

And the wounded king bled as the youth finally said

"Checkmate" to old Widower Jones.

-

The defeated man smiled and said "Listen, child,

What I say is for your ears alone.

My old chess set you've won – Please keep it, young one."

Said the gentle old Widower Jones.

-

That dark night, in his room, the old man met his doom,

For our lives we but borrow, not own

As he drew his last breath, the old man met his death

And no more was Widower Jones.

-

By his grave, a youth lies with tears in his eyes

For the old man he once had known

And he sets a small thing – an ivory king –

Near the tombstone of Widower Jones.

-

For though he is gone and his soul has moved on

And the earth cradles his weary bones,

In the heart and the hands of one quiet young man

Lies the memory of Widower Jones.