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Monday, March 12, 2012


by Martha Deed

I played my clarinet in the rain

and prayed Roger Brown wouldn't drown 

from a tackle on Pearl River’s muddy field

that the Nyack Indians would prevail again

And when I outgrew the band

I did not outgrow my pleasure in a game

that let me stare at muscled bodies
without guilt
Until the drugs began to show
The shootings, the after-game dementias
Yet I remained steadfast in my fascination

with the rhythms and twists

of fighting for a ball

as if life depended on carrying it

across chalk lines – the pointless enterprise
welcome distraction from bills and divorces and sick children,
unemployment, crime, and bad-ass motel chains
Until the game itself became a string of injuries

with gurneys and breathing tubes and useless muscles

And still I watched bending conscience only slightly
to accommodate violence replacing chesslike beauty
I finally said I cannot watch this blood sport anymore

said it with regret until today I watched a tough guy cry
over too many hits, and surgeries and complications

An old man at 35
Juncos don't offer bounties for injuring
the neighborhood's Cooper's Hawk
or Great-Horned Owl

nor play clarinets in the rain
They sing their own songs

play their own games

Me, too

Martha Deed lives in North Tonawanda, NY.  Her most recent book is The Last Collaboration (Furtherfield, 2012),  a mixed-genre story of her daughter, Millie Niss's encounters with health care in the final year of her life, presented as Millie would have wanted it to be done. Companion piece to City Bird: Selected Poems (1991-2009) (BlazeVox, 2010) by Millie Niss, edited by Martha Deed.  Martha Deed has previously published at The New Verse News.