Tonight, how can I capture my dysthymia without you?
Tonight, should I feel liable to blame: for turning old
And being poor at work in trades where I don’t matter?
When did my life outlast its chapter, glorious fucknut?
How can the moon (tonight, it’s super!), which I swore
For all to banish as a symbol, to strike from every poem
Paint the sky in perfect kairos like a mirrored aperture?
What smarts the road each night in Southwest Michigan
To move toward economic sorrow: onward, downward
Like a telescopic ladder? Those nights, which industries
Abandoned you, Kzoo: land of boiling waters, trickiest
Rivers? Which folks absconded to Ohio, equally shitty?
(Where comes my deep embarrassment, the suspicion
Of a glance or smell, in public: man without children?)
When did my body start to mourn its mediocre penis:
Fatten, gray, ache, blur, and bleed from tragic origins?
Why’s my shame seem never-vanish (though it hides
Like a regional accent or like another fucking adjunct
In the crowd) and, as a feeling absent corresponding
Logic, suddenly emergent like a scar in a face of a tree?
—David Robinson (1989-2003)
Admiral. AKA all-star. AKA all-time, all-(ever and always)-American
Center. See my credentials: Champion—check that! correction–
Two-time champ. Ten-time West representative. Texas twin tower.
Wooden-award winner waging low-post war, recording rows of W
Rookie-of-the-year. Rodman’s more respectable rebound partner.
Midshipman, Mathematician. Marketing darling. Most valuable
Player. Prominent philanthropist. Popovich’s prized athletic pupil
Keeping the key clean, killing with my two-handed tomahawk.
Host to the NBA’s hottest household names on Mr. Robinson’s
(Nike-sponsored) Neighborhood. Naismith nominee, then inductee.
First pick. Physical phenom. Fourteen-year career. One of four
Quadruple-doubles in four quarters. One of fifty (quote-unquote)
Greatest players. A gentleman giant and go-getter. OG gold medalist
Dream-Teamer. Defensive paradigm. Vertical dynamite. Duncan’s
Seven-foot senior-assistant superstar. Scoring savant. San Antonio Spur
Icon. But I’m still insecure in this image, being ill-fitted, inferior. Isn’t it
Easy, after all, for the ego to erase away my errors, my early exits
(Losses all too legion and dismal to fully list at length here) and
B-ball battle scars (the bruises, the bad back, the broken bones)?
Unless with some understanding we pause to unearth the ugly truth,
Very little of value survives a violent reminiscence. View, (re)view,
Or else those obvious holes in an otherwise too orderly origin only
X the map of exaggeration, the extent to which the inexact exacerbates
Your yearning: a youth lost, yes, but never yours (not really yours). And yet,
Junior-lieutenant (not a genuine admiral), my jersey still reads a jumbo five-
Michael Marberry’s poetry has appeared in journals like The New Republic, West Branch, Sycamore Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere and in anthologies like The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best of the Net, The Southern Poetry Anthology, and New Poetry from the Midwest. He is originally from rural Tennessee and is currently the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University. More of his work can be found at www.michaelmarberry.com.