Sestina on the death of E. Gary Gygax

Dear Jack Chick: you claim none can find heaven
who play a certain game, and how you’ve fought
those who study forbidden books for rules
on how to face evil in other worlds.
You suspect agendas, and fear a chance
meeting will land an innocent in Hell.

Yet loneliness is a foretaste of Hell,
as friendship is an hors d’ouvre of Heaven.
So day-dreaming teens oft leapt at the chance
to have their best friends back them in a fight —
good against evil, on scores of worlds.
Does power not come from obeying rules?

The prophet from Wisconsin gave us rules
with which we could battle forces from Hell,
and ally with friends in hundreds of worlds
as oathbound heroes, servants of Heaven;
and friends alone brought magic to the fight,
where friendly swords risked all on dice of chance.

Though Gary and I never met by chance,
and I chose to learn and live other rules —
I still never turn down his kind of fight,
for I love forcing the doors of Hades,
to climb level by level toward heaven.
Now Gary’s hands helped create half the worlds

I’ve ever wandered, and no one builds worlds
without him, any more. If God should chance
to meet him now, some changes in Heaven
will surely follow — Everywhere God rules,
and even in the fire-y pits of Hell,
they’ll bring platonic solids when they fight,

so Gary’s numbers can resolve the fights,
in Cartesian planes and hexagonned worlds,
while rules-lawyers put little gods through hell.
Gary never intended to tempt fate;
he just found pleasure in playing by the rules
with all his friends, and that was his heaven.

Fight him if you want; Gods send not by chance
Makers of worlds and authors of rules…
Gary’s not in Hell, Jack, but high heaven.

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  1. 11 years on, I take comfort in knowing I’m more likely to come across a parody Chick tract than the real thing.
    Gary Gygax’ worlds of imagination, these continue on strong.

  2. […] I love the platonic solids.  I’ve written about them before.  I think every kid should get a set for his fifth birthday, and learn what you can do with them. Actually, every kid should be given a set of five or six of them, so they can play with them in stacks and rows and walls and other formations. Heck, just give the kids dice, and let them learn to role-play the old-fashioned way. […]

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