Self-Portrait as Surly NBA Star
The secret: take control of your own narrative –
but you won’t learn this until too late.
Say the right thing. Say the right thing.
Or say what you mean. Fight everyone,
favor truth over lyricism. It’s hard to complain.
The world is rubber ball through clumsy fingers,
slick and impossible, direct shot to the chest.
If someone touches you, touch back
as if anything could be so simple –
the halftime speech is out of context,
the blessing not quite bestowed,
a new tattoo resembles wisdom
or unfulfilled potential. The distance
between good and better and best
is a long season. They’re all elimination games.
THE NIGHT BEFORE HIS WEDDING, THE FAMOUS GOLFER TAKES A STRIPPER TO TOUR THE CONSTRUCTION SITE OF A COURSE THAT WILL BEAR HIS NAME
Consider the earthmoving –
these machines not in use,
looming empty nightsky skeletons.
Everyone is fungible
except me. Everyone
thinks this but for me
it is true. This robust furrow,
in land that used to have
purpose: to sustain, to offer meaning
beyond pleasure. But pleasure
is why we are here
so when I call you Diamond
or Dallas or whatever,
your made-up name
only adds to the lies
I’ve told merely tonight:
I’ve never been lost.
We have an understanding.
She doesn’t love me.
I want you. Such lack
of originality – it’s an act,
like your writhing.
I like to see how much credit
being me earns me.
Itch, scratch, collapse.
My faith is portable,
my life is the final hole
of a bad round:
swing, swing, swing, putt,
none of it matters
except that everyone’s watching.
I’m bored already
yet my body is happy
to go through the motions,
this rehearsed dissonance.
I should apologize
but my tissue is failing,
Spike and wane,
the yellow flare –
grass grows wet
underneath our spent flesh,
here, where the sixteenth hole will be:
over a pond, after a hard dogleg left
around the shell
of the old barn
repainted, left standing
of our power over structure.
Imagine topography transformed.
Imagine the scar left by a bulldozer.
BARRY BONDS LISTENS TO ROBERT JOHNSON’S “HELL HOUND ON MY TRAIL” WHILE SPRING TRAINING BEGINS WITHOUT HIM
Let’s be honest with each other, for once.
This is the way they want legends to end – crawling
around barroom floors, barking like a mad dog,
poisoned by jealous husband or choking to death
on your own medicine, half-crazy from loneliness.
Got to keep moving, baby,
when you sit still it all catches up.
This is the part the devil neglects to mention
when you’re standing at that crossroads.
Everyone envies the villain but they cheer
when he gets it in the end. You built this place –
hell, they named it after you –
one day you wake up and find you’re no longer
welcome. They’ll agree to pretend it’s your fault.
Best to play with your back to the crowd
so no one sees your secrets.
All you ever did was step into the only skin
they wanted you to wear in the first place.
AMORAK HUEY, a longtime sports journalist, now teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His chapbook The Insomniac Circus is forthcoming in 2014 from Hyacinth Girl Press, and his poems have appeared The Best American Poetry 2012, The Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Menacing Hedge, Weave, Rattle, and other journals. Follow him on Twitter: @amorak.