Philly versus Dallas

I been sending this little ditty around town. What do you think of her?

***

just once i knew the way of all flesh
texas stadium was older than the players on the field.

the design was modern gladiator.
looking at the back, where huge concrete columns,
like stream-lined aquaducts, funneled the watery
beer and sewage hotdogs up and down
the coliseum stairs

the ceiling of the stadium was open,
but the sides had these wide curves to keep
the sound of the screaming fans from spilling
on the highways, fan noise was just more pollution.

the roof had this black fiber decayed beyond repair
tiny torn fragments swam through the noise
to land on hooded sweatshirts

into plastic cups

one piece as big as a black locust landed
on my leg, and i freaked
i thought it was a bug.

my father picked the thing on my leg.
he held it up. i told him that the sky
was falling.

just once i knew the way of all flesh

the black fibers sank in little strips
from the concave stadium roof
the stadium lights like noise
and the crowd still because the players
sank in little strips into their cups
of gatorade. (Philly kicked our
Cowboy asses that night)

a young woman held a sign
limp in her hand from the 30-yard line
an hour ago she was calling out to her own,
private gladiator, an hour from now she’d
sit in her car in a muddy field and yawn
behind her headlights’ twin yawns.
her sign on the stadium floor
all the lights off like muted choirs
the little black ceiling fibers like black snow
and empty cups
and moonlight

just once i knew the way of all flesh

my father has trouble climbing stairs. he looks
up at the distance between the guard rail
and the row of seats. he has a look on his face
like he’s an old man. he gets to the top just fine,
but i’m thinking about how in another ten years
i’m going to have to hold his arm. ten years ago
we were in martial arts together
beating the shit out of each other
beneath kickboxing pads.

we climb over the legs of the people on our row.
we take a picture of the crowded stadium for my mom.

he tells me about the last time he went to an nfl game.
he and my mom lived in Denver (“This was 1975… 76?”)
and they went to a game between Tampa Bay and Denver.
he couldn’t remember the quarterbacks’ names.
all anybody talks about
these days are stars, but he tells me
what he remembers about the snowy hooligans
in parking lots and the magic time
between weddings and children.

birds fly around the stadium lights, hunting
for the flies of winter.
black insulation from the roof
falls through the sky like moths. birds dive for the black strips
like taking bait.
“the last time i was at a football game,” i said,
“i was at a college game with a sousaphone on me
like an octopus in love.”

a whistle blows.
i almost miss the kickoff.
and that’s why the whistle blows:
everyone will stop talking – look up!

Look!

just once i knew the way of all flesh

some of the black bits are bigger, like large crickets.
most are just light black dandruff,
jarred loose from the stadium’s scream vibrations,
they drift into your cup of beer.

i recommend – until they build that new stadium –

drinking from the plastic bottles for sale all over.
or holding your hand over the cup’s drinking lips
while microscopic flecks of your own skin,
jarred loose in the vibrations of the screaming
blood inside of you, falls into your cold beer

tiny flecks,
can’t even taste them.

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