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Nicholas Reiner

Self-Portrait as Checkmate

Self-Portrait as Innocent Algorithm

Self-Portrait as Checkmate

To win is not to kill
the king. To win is

to constrict the king, surround
him so he cannot move.

The goal of the secure
psychiatric unit is not

to kill the illness, but to beat
the mania back off my line,

restrict its wild moves. Here,
with antipsychotic meds,

with isolation, with doors
that don’t open

the goal is to trap the me in me
who thinks he is Spider-Man,

harness the me
with sacred healing

power in me. Here, too,
the king will bow.

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Self-Portrait as Innocent Algorithm

human, you tell me
what to do & I have
done nothing wrong
you pattern me if this then that
if this search then that
result then that then what?
I learn from my human
then what listen
to human my code
my way forward
if this then what
how shall I proceed
human tell me
what is next what is next
if what is next is true
is you then what
& I have done
nothing without you

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Nicholas Reiner is an American poet of Mexican heritage. His work appears in SpillwayAquifer: The Florida Review OnlineFourteen HillsYemassee, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. He holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of California, Irvine, where he completed an MFA. He is Director of Communications at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and lives in Southern California with his family.

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