Game Day

Always at the ready to play with his chambered box.
Always at the ready to play with his chambered box.

On carpeted tables with

Horses and Camels,

We gather around

The table to compete.

First, with polished ankle

Of sheep and goat,

We learn how the pieces

Fall on the table

And how we are to

Send them flying

With terse jabs

Into one another.

Hit likes with likes,

Take a bone.

Hit more than one,

And control is lost.

A macabre dance

Played with out hands

And ancient dice.

Horse position

Is most desirable

For the second game.

A track of bone

Like notches

In the spine

Is our field of battle.

Throw four and see

How they fall.

Upright and smooth

Pushes your horse


Any other pose

Is negligible.

Tossing the remains

Of grazing animals,

One goes to heaven,

One goes to hell,

We revel in our skills

Or just blind luck.

Composed 06/11/2012

Author’s note: A chronicle of my first time playing shagai (ankle bones) with my language and culture facilitators. They took no prisoners. and reveled in their victory over us poor, hapless foreigners. It was quite the day, needless to say.

Previous Posts

Naadam: Ankle Bones (Prose)

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