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POETRY / ode to football / Matthew Mitchell

sandro-schuh-HgwY_YQ1m0w-unsplash.jpg

(with an image borrowed from Jon Bois) 

I.
tweets magnify                         fatten into        cavalries of bandwagon             

fans      betting on        the rams
dads     betting on        the patriots
i’m       betting on        chronic traumatic encephalopathy  

the nfl
released                                   
a statement
on facebook
last summer                            
after some
doctor
scraped cte                  
off dwight
clark’s skull     

 

it read:

            angry adults called black men kneeling for the anthem
            unconstitutional & we are so thankful that everyone is
            currently focusing on that & not this terrifying & confusing
& not-as-important-as-you-all-think-it-is degenerative disease
that eats quarterbacks, that only safer playing rules can kill. 

            ignorant fans loved us in the 90s, when snowflakes didn’t
            care how many concussions their heroes had.

            since will smith—we mean bennet omalu—discovered
clumps of tau proteins on mike webster’s brain, we
have grown tired of discovering.

            this disease you speak of made a skeleton out of junior seau’s
            shoulder pads to teach boys to not hit so damn hard; this
            facebook post should assure you we’ll look into it.

            the centennial light is still going, so why kill this multi-billion
            dollar machine? along with your devotion & money, we will
gladly accept thoughts & prayers on behalf of our dementia-ridden
            ex-star running backs—we mean football elders.                        

II. 
i can imagine the moment when the nfl we all
know ends, because it has become something
smarter than us, or we are all dead, buried in
our lucky sunday jerseys—while a robot from
that one episode of the jetsons is slinging bullet
passes toward the end zone, in front of swaths
of androids tweeting about it on phones made
from skin grafts of their metal asses.

can
            you     
                        still
hear
                                                the
                        groans
                          of
dissatisfied
                                    dallas
cowboys
                                         fans?

no.

can
            you
                        hear    
                                    the
                                                clinking           
                                                                  diamonds
                                                                                   of
                                                                                               tom
                                                                                                         brady’s
championship
rings?

no.

that will be the end.

signal lost.  

file corrupted.

  

III.
the only super bowl i see here is a turf-covered gravy boat where the liquefied brains of swollen linebackers splatter around the edges of the grandstands      hissing like oil on the rim of a skillet   smoking like charred egg                      cerebrospinal fluid going through osmosis at halftime

i don’t know where the stadium lights end &
the morgue lamps begin, but the pigskin
glistens in every hand it lands in & hushed
voices tinkle like a chandelier on a
ceiling low enough to touch.                                                                                   

this place—where fatalistic bodies
compress outside of phone screens
& the arc of that golden boy’s
pass, a doddering ball under a gloaming
atlanta breeze, glides above galloping
receivers—shouldn’t be beautiful, but it is.


Matthew Mitchell is a Northeast Ohio poet trying to make his work as beautiful and wondrous as Vince Carter’s 360-Windmill dunk in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. Meet him at your local coffee shop (not Starbucks, because the aforementioned poet’s partner’s family owns a coffee shop and the aforementioned poet refuses to cross enemy lines) if you want to talk about how Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” is the quintessential pop banger. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to, journals like BARNHOUSE, Noble/Gas Qtrly, The Indianapolis Review, Barren Magazine, and others.