Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesday Poetry Corner, week 1

Confession time: Occasionally, I write poems. I realize that to a majority of college football fans this is the equivalent of admitting I've contracted brain leprosy, but there it is.

For a long time, poems were something like a very intense hobby of mine. I took and enjoyed a lot of poem-writing classes during my English-majorhood at BSC and at Auburn, for instance. Eventually blogging became my hobby and I didn't write nearly so many poems, which was fine, but I liked having poems as a hobby, too. So now to keep my hand in, so to speak, I'm combining the two and introducing another new weekly feature, the JCCW Tuesday Poetry Corner. Each week it will feature a sonnet in response to some aspect of the Auburn game, a few quatrains (i.e. rhyming four-line poems) built around the week's SEC results, a handful of random bits covering national college football developments, and finally an accessible, worthwhile contemporary poem that I think you, college football fan, may actually find not-sucky if sampled.

To borrow a line of Orson's once included in a discussion of how Susan Sontag could be applied to ESPN, please put down the lighter and gas can. No, these aren't going to be chuckle-worthy TSIB-style limericks. No, I'm not pretending I'll wind up writing something earth-shatteringly brilliant. But I'm not going to throw the Auburn version of a 16-year-old's emo verse or Wallace Stevens at you, I promise. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. But it's something I want to give a shot. Here goes.

Your Auburn Sonnet of the Week:

The Dawn

He cannot sleep. All night the angry glare
Of his alarm clock yells in red, a coach
To scream You're sleepin' like a loser, swear
At him 'til dawn. The skitter of a roach
Is faint along the walls, faint as the light
That creeps into his window. And he thinks
Again, again, of Saturday: the tight-
ness in his stomach, picked-at eggs; the winks
At Tiger Walk from blue-eyed girls; his wrists
And ankles bound in tape, for strength. The pads.
The jersey taut against them. Then the kiss
Of cleats on tunnel concrete. The roar. His Dad's
Gone teary, somewhere. Then the sun--now through
his window--shining orange, hung in blue.

Your SEC Quatrains of the Week:


There's no pick-six this time. He stands, light soft
Along his glasses, inside the sideline storm:
An alternate Ben Franklin, kite aloft,
Awaiting lightning bolts that never come.


The kick ignores their prayers, its course laid straight
For nowhere near the uprights, so they drag
Their eyes across the field and back, their late
And desperate hope: one last redemptive flag.

Casey Dick

They mocked his family's name, agreed his ass
Should ride the pine, called-in to say his spot
Belonged to a hotshot freshman green as grass.
And now they cheer him. Now he's all they've got.

Florida 56, Hawaii 10

Some scoreboards lack a certain clarity;
The one in Gainesville doesn't speak at all
to how the Warriors practiced what we'd call
a downright Christian kind of charity.

Your National Odds and Ends of the Week:


Wow, Juice, look at all those touchdowns that you tossed!
We'd say you've finally made it! (Too bad your team just lost.)

Jamie Harper

the ball betrays him
to say his coach will one day
betray him also

June Jones

He sees the pregame smiles
erased by Rice
and calculates the miles
to paradise.

And Your Contemporary Poem You Might Actually Like, Honest, of the Week:

A Curse on a Thief
by X.J. Kennedy, available here.

Paul Dempster had a handsome tackle box
In which he'd stored up gems for twenty years:
Hooks marvelously sharp, ingenious lures
Jointed to look alive. He went to Fox

Lake, placed it on his dock, went in and poured
Himself a frosty Coors, returned to find
Some craven sneak had stolen in behind
His back and crooked his entire treasure horde.

Bad cess upon the bastard! May the bass
He catches with Paul Dempster's pilfered gear
Jump from his creel, make haste for his bare rear,
And, fins outthrust, slide up his underpass.

May each ill-gotten catfish in his pan
Sizzle his lips and peel away the skin.
May every perch his pilfered lines reel in
Oblige him to spend decades on the can.

May he be made to munch a pickerel raw,
Its steely gaze fixed on him as he chews,
Choking on every bite, while metal screws
Inexorably lock his lower jaw,

And having eaten, may he be transformed
Into a fish himself, with gills and scales,
A stupid gasper that a hook impales.
In Hell's hot griddle may he be well warmed

And served with shots of lava-on-the-rocks
To shrieking imps indifferent to his moans
Who'll rend his flesh and pick apart his bones,
Poor fish who hooked Paul Dempster's tackle box.

We'll do it again next week.

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