Scoring forty-nine flesh wounds in sixty-five episodes, federal agent Mark Sterlingand Soviet superspy Vladimir Volkov faced off in five seasons of Checkmate!,cheeky Cold War television thriller, two foes united in mutual personal respectand marrow-deep loathing for the ideals of the other. Who could have known the lights would never go out, the syndication deal triggered, the fan sitespulling them into cutting repartee and verbal barbs that led tabloids to coverthe shooting of the film version from pre-production to post, the vodka contestsleading to juggling extras and sharing the co-star of the film on three-way dates? Marco Crespi wanted his Sterling to be much less stalwartly Yankee, more liberaland tortured, able to join in on civil-rights marches without smelling subversion.Franklin Willingham Randolph, IV., the man behind Volkov, sent millions toJohn Birch and Goldwater, felt his ice-blue eyes smolder at every damned hippie, every war left unfunded. Their famous poster of two men posing on chessboardsamong shattered pieces had graced not only the walls of Contemporary Art Magazinesbut been lampooned in late-night skits. Still, now their graying temples insured whitewould always take the first turn in battle, and the off-Broadway musical Checkmates brought in hip-hop and the seeds of Afghanistan, something beyond their mid-Sixtiesswagger and cigarette impunity. No Emmys, no Oscars, just twin eyeblink cameos inthe inevitable ironic reboot with those sprats Hayden Smunchner and Jeff Philip Sousa.Residuals went into funds for mutual ex-wives and rival urologists, each watching a river of urine mixed with blood as murky as the ideological river seeping betweenthem, through their veins, their death bouts not dissimilar from ballroom dancingwhen played and replayed in slow motion. When depressed they call one anotherand change places, reverse accents, deny transgressions, defy their stale selves. John F. Buckley and Martin Ott John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. Their previous collaboration Poets’ Guide to America was published by Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012, featuring poems published in more than forty journals and anthologies, including A Bird as Black as the Sun, City of the Big Shoulders, Confrontation, Evergreen Review, Post Road, and ZYZZYVA. They have recently completed a second volume of collaborative poems, the television-themed The Yankee Broadcast Network, and are now working on a third, American Wonder, about superheroes and supervillains.