Games Within Games
This poem is about something that happened this weekend. I could capture it better in verse than in prose. I make no claim to be anybody’s Walt Whitman or whatever.
A dismal weekend morning showdown looms, A child’s game between two teams of young men Who battle for the pure love of the game. But what is it about the spectacle That makes those who should know better go mad? Across the way a gaggle of mothers— They look different, sound different, speak different; Do they feel different too? We are not the same . . . And yet, and yet, and yet I know we are If you keep in mind the eyes of the Lord. Such bromides have become passé today. It’s a fact that I just have to accept. They are yelling, cursing, screaming, fighting; Everything taken personal, pure id. We sit, all of us, afraid to engage, To ask that they tone it down for the kids. A ruined career, a ruined life; these Are not worth the penalty action brings, So unopposed they yell, curse, scream, and fight. A father stands next to me, skin dark as Lacquered mahogany, authority To act written on his surface; even he Is reduced to mutters under his breath: “They’re not playing for money; let them be. “It’s a good game, don’t ruin it like this. “Why you screaming?” He says what we all think But dare not let loose. This is where we are. When I was a child, I was taught we can All get along, and when I was a child I believed it. When I grew up I saw Powerful men seeking to undo the Very same things we were made to believe. I think I still believe it now, most days. Victory is theirs. Still they instigate While their little ones play sweetly with mine. One mother picks a fight with the chain gang— Symbolism there doesn’t escape me— I can’t hear but everyone looks irate. “Don’t worry,” she says, “my husband is here, “He’ll take care of this.” Some words are exchanged. A pale pudgy mother films the gross scene, Phone held in trembling hands. Note I don’t do The same—a coward perhaps? The man had Only words for her; he’d have hands for me. Again, there is too much for me to lose. The situation then sort of just dies But not before the inevitable: “Oh yeah? Well, you people came over on “The Mayflower; stole this shit.” There it is. I remind myself the bad apples Are just that. Nobody knows what else is Going on in another person’s life. A degree of empathy is needed. I didn’t feel this on that ugly morning. A beautiful little girl runs out of The pack, braids flying in the breeze and smiles, Waves a hand at my daughter and says “Bye!” Her voice the sweetest music heard that day. “I like your jacket!” my daughter replies. No baggage, no ancestral hatreds taught, At worst those lessons not yet taken root. They are reflections of us at our best And worst. And we are failing them every Time we give in to what we have been sold.
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