One Poem by Janine DeBaise

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Out of turn

I win $10 for second prize in a beauty contest.
I turn the money down.

I try to make deals with Nick,
the six-year-old next door.
He owns Park Place. I have Boardwalk.
I propose that we build a hotel on one
and leave the other for seagulls and starfish.

You can’t do that, my son says.
There are rules against sharing.
You have to put houses on both.

I refuse to pay rent on Oriental Avenue
because the name sounds racist.
I give Clayton a free ride on the Reading
because I don’t feel right taking money from a child.
I try to keep Marvin Gardens forever wild.

The neighbor kids think I’m crazy.

My daughter picks a card
that says: Pay Poor Tax of $15.
That makes sense. Let’s take money
from people who don’t have any.

I hate the way the little boot follows the dog
around the board. I always get stuck with the thimble
or the iron—none of my kids want to pick an icon
they’ve never seen in real life.

My son inherits $100.
Give it back, I say. I’m not dead.

I refuse to go directly to jail.
I demand a fair trial.
Come on, Mom, my kids say.

The more railroads I own, the more I must charge.
Shouldn’t it be the opposite?
Once I own the Short Line, I should think
I could afford to be a little generous.

The card tells me I have been elected
chairman of the board and so
I wear a hat and smoke a pipe.
I should have realized the game was outdated
when I got the card that says:
Doctor’s Fee Pay $50.

My daughter waves a fistful of money,
her voice shrill with triumph.
Her brothers look ready to kill.

I go bankrupt before anyone else.
Even the three-year-old has more money.

I keep trying to explain to these children:
There is no such thing as Free Parking.
Someone somewhere
will have to pay the price.




Janine DeBaiseJanine DeBaise has published poetry and creative non-fiction in journals such as 13th Moon, Hawk & Handsaw, and the minnesota review. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Of a Feather, and has just finished her first book of creative nonfiction. She teaches at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York.

Header photo by Suzy Hazelwood, courtesy Pexels. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.