Poem Notes

ON BASKETBALL                                                             

Space is the same in Arizona,
I suppose, as in Michigan, or Ames, Iowa,
fireflies overlooking overpasses
framed by towering bowers of corn,

soon to be detasseled by the white, shirtless
foolish. There is this particular flatness,
and there are other landscapes,
divided and subdivided, land made

into graph paper by roads. Here the grid
ends in mountain and beyond that is another
flatness, then another mountain, crush
of geology, the earth slowly moving

against itself. I guess
there’s emptiness and heat anywhere
you make it, the breath of panting dogs
stinking up to your balcony,

the world, or you, intruding
(you are never sure which),
the blacktop up the street leading to the hoop,    
one hole among others, zero to be filled.

Silence says: here you are and forever
shall be unworthy. Your whiteness
obvious enough for everyone. Your
inability to anything—now it’s everything.  

Or is that too much? Is that not why
it’s important? This male motion
echoes into darkening, repeating, a shout
and then just the heat of lights. It’s not enough

to say this is not your game,
your world, your worthiness of accolade
or any other marker of respect. You can
show them in the arcade later, or on your

amber-screened Tandy, least sexy of all
conceivable IBM-compatible computers,
with Jordan vs. Bird: One on One.
It is 1988. You’re probably a douche.

The world is populated by douches
just like you and like those other kids.
Look them up on wikipedia. You could
hear them through the screen, just up the street,

lame shorts and shirts and skins, flat slap
of tread on blacktop, playing one
on one or half-court with friends
who would not remain friends for long,

a tiny tragedy, a thread to worry at,
unravel, keep pulling at for lines, for corn
and then for war, your years of failure and fear, 
and then into fields after that, receding.



Jordan v. Bird: One on One


Actual quote from the back of the game box: "Don't blow the money balls!"