La, La, La

My butt plastered to the bleachers
Usually pushed back
When I’m at work
Provide the lack of cushion
For this morning of watching kids try out
For rec basketball
I’m just an observer
Watching the parents
Who are so critical of my profession
Getting frustrated as the kids get rammy
While waiting their turns
Watching the coaches
Grade players against the skills of others
Something they forbid
Teachers to do
Most of all
I watch the kids, just wanting to play
No refs, no coaches, just
Games
With competition and a love for the run
Where records don’t matter
And drills are better left in shop class

If we had “Shop” anymore

I shouldn’t judge these volunteers
Or parents driving their children
Towards athletic greatness
And the scholarships they are statistically destined
Not to earn
But youth sports does not hold the same value for me
That it did when I was a kid
I’m sure there were snarky parents back then
At least mine stayed out of the way
I’m sure the teachers who might have been there hid
When they saw the unscheduled conference coming their way
I’m sure that we,
The adults,
Are different now
Forgetting that these leagues are about kids
Not all of this stuff
I’m watching

Two Examples of Toughness

A woman nearly loses a leg
In a boating accident
Told she would never live normally
What does she do
Squats, overhead at that,
Teaching her body to run again
In spite of the metal holding
Her leg together

A girl daring to speack
Against a culture that says, “Shut up,”
By shooting her to silence her
What does she do
Keeps speaking, on a world stage at that
Teaching us all about injustice
Despite the contract
On her life

A trio of athletes
Grizzled in gridiron greatness
Spoiled by the false accolades bestowed upon them
What did they do when challenged
Quit, at dawn’s early light at that
Proving that rights of passage
Only come to those
Able to face adversity

Can We Get The Want For A Meal

Scraps
That’s what I want
To throw on the floor
Of my class
Precious morsels
That the students would fight over
Like they were the last bites of
Sustenance coming their way
It’s the attitude I’m really wanting
Not the mauling
That might occur
If raw meat was given to
A hungry pack
It’s the hunger

I want the students to be hungry

Once I worked with inner city students
Who wanted to go to college so badly that
They endured a contrived ridiculousness
Only because they knew
The higher education would further their goals
They hung from cables, wrote in journals, and
Conformed to early curfews
Because they knew this was a stepping stone
Beyond the kibbles
City life was doling out to them

I miss their hunger

For the fight was worth it
In two weeks
These young people grew to see
How important decision making was
That consequences made real
Can really change a perspective

I miss their hunger

For My Grandmother

Sunday, Einstein and I were walking
Keeping a subdued shuffle
With a blues beat lighted by a gray sky
Neither he nor I were paying attention to much
Just basking in the chimney smell
Blowing from wherever

Without provocation
And with a determination I had not seen in my dog
He stopped, every hair on his back raised
His growl letting something know
He was not to be trifled with
I tried to get him to come along to no avail
He barked at nothing
Finally sitting in the middle of the road
For several minutes

I’ve wondered about dogs and their senses
Believing they see more than we are able
But the longer he sat
The more weird I felt
First taking on a fear that I was being watched
Then an uneasy calm that there was no danger

Far away in Texas
The decision was being made
To move my grandmother into hospice care
Her battle with dementia finally giving way
To her truest desires,
To be back with John
And out of the mess of later life
Part of me thinks that when a life so lonely and lost
Finds the peace of moving on
The soul journeys without regard for the flesh and bones
Left behind

Honey said her goodbye to me yesterday
Speaking with my pit bull
Who got the message, cluing me in to her presence
So we could sit together
For a few minutes

I wish I could have told her
How I don’t wear long pants because of her,
How much I’m craving plum jelly, and
How I’ve started chewing gum again, popping
As much as possible
I’m hoping she’ll carry that pistol like personality
Into the heavens finding my brother
And have one great game of catch in a boathouse up there

Rest easy, Honey
It’s time

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Tidewater & Tony

I was sitting listening to some Tony Joe White
Absorbing the velvety groove
Taking to heart the stories sung
In that low tone
And I mentally headed back to Tidewater
Hanging by the river
With the swampy ponds covered in muck
Longing for the peace of that water
Especially during that golden hour
When all of the colors were subdued and glowing
When the little waves just lapped at the shore
I’d like to sit there
With my wife
Looking out over the James flowing to the sea
But barely able to show a current
Because it was just to cool
To get worked up
Kind of like my mood
With these Tony Joe White songs

No One To Play With

Nothing but venom is
Trying to bust from my fingers
Ornery and bellicose
Inspired by coffee flavored beer,
Ramen too hot to slurp,
And the finality of forty five minutes
Being too much

I’m a
A player looking for a game
The fields and courts ruined
Feelings just the same

Out west the people live
Without a care
They dodge those buggies travelin’
To work, school, or north
Never thinking anything of worth
Counts outside their schedule
Down here closer to the Mason-Dixon Line

I’m a
A player looking for a game
The fields and courts ruined
Feelings just the same

Now I’m tired of the whole thing
Resigned to a life without
That which is half of me
But only equated with money
And raised in some effed up pansy butt kind of way
Making me realize the genes passed on
Have withered like my desire
To fight anymore

I’m a
A player looking for a game
The fields and courts ruined
Feelings just the same

Rest assured critics
And purveyors of divorce advice
That I don’t give a frack
What you have to say
I’m worn as a disconnected dad
Whose kids were moved away and
At the ridiculous attempts to have a say
Only to make a donkey of myself
By braying and snorting just to be heard
Then dismissed once the phone
Is put away

I’m a
A player looking for a game
The fields and courts ruined
Feelings just the same

So instead of ranting
I’ll just sit down with my hot cheap soup,
Cold snooty beer, peaceful misunderstood dog, and sad country songs
Thinking up ways to take the trash out
Maybe recycling those withered genes
If only they would relialize
The distance they have allowed to grow
Between us

Maybe then
I can come out to to play.

Here We Go Again

Light leaks throughs the trees
So bare without their leaves
A washed out yellow is all that remains
Of the autumn palette
The cold, invisible, seeps into everything
Making the radiance outside untenable,
Daunting
So begins winter
The cold summer
Where extremes take the open air
From a temperate soul
Where the confines close in

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