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Janine DeBaise


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I should have realized the game was outdated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 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.
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