all I learned from football was fathers will layer atop
stands, dog pile in jeans and chant as Romans for executions
before their eyes, praying for glorious sons before they die.
A mob of teens in shared colors. If it weren’t
for cheerleaders, we’d be gangsters, all fearing
punishment for stillness, idleness was only standing
to our National Anthem’s bomb-bursting brave end.
If you were good, you’d be a boy-worshipped god;
if bad, you’d be gay, a body for boys’ imaginations.
Lesson learned: without victory there’s only pain.
Seasonally, no one stopped or dared us any better.
So, with glass internals, skin of gravel, we’d play
with bullets in our brains, all for the payment of
one million dollars’ worth of proud fathers.
Until all we believed was self-denial:
being beaten by fifty points by half-time,
mouthing Gatorade prayers for wins;
proud fathers, forever.