Monday, July 8, 2013

poem of the day 07.08.13


and then i tried playing football again
for the grade school varsity team

even though i never really liked football

plus i had a bum left leg
from running through a glass door
the previous summer

i still couldn’t lift my ankle well enough to run
but my doctor had cleared me anyway

the coaches understood this to an extent
but they needed guys

the head coach kept saying to me
you’re coming back right?

even though i rode the bench
and drank all of the gatorade when it rained

i couldn’t do laps for shit
it was too hot in the full uniform
and my ankle kept giving out

the coaches thought that i was lollygagging it
that my leg injury was ultimately bullshit
that i just needed to get tough

so they set three eighth graders on me when we ran

they trailed me
and tried to scare me into compliance with their chants

they called me a pussy and other colorful things
they tripped and pushed me when they caught up
or because i’d finally quit running

a few of them got overzealous

they would try to get me the next day in school
brushing me with their shoulders in the hallway

telling me that they
were going to kick my ass in the bathroom
or at practice that night

but nothing even happened

when i returned my uniform to the coach
midway through an undefeated season

he looked at me as if i were a piece of shit
then he spit on the gym floor and said

you’re such a coward, grochalski
you know that?

you’re a little girl
we should put you on the cheerleading squad

nothing but a goddamned coward

maybe i was
but he was a small man in a small school
and at thirteen years-old i already knew that

so there was no harm that he could really do

and all i could think about
as i tossed him my helmet, my pads
and my high numbered jersey

was how free i suddenly felt
to cower or persevere

to walk or run as i’d like

or waste my saturdays laying on the couch
watching shadows spider across the walls

while somewhere else
some other kid was riding the bench

drinking all of the gatorade

or getting yelled at and pushed around
while he ran pointless circle after circle
in the hot sun and dirt.

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