James Lee Jobe | |
Charlie, sunrise is a three-legged mongrel dog,
going deaf, already blind in one eye,
answering to the unlikely name, 'Lucky.
The sky, at gray-blue dawn, is a football field painted
by smiling artists.
Each artist has 3 arms, 3 hands, 3 legs.
One leg drags behind, leaving a trail, leaving a mark.
The future resembles a cloudy dream
where the ghosts of all your life
try to tell you something, but what?
Noon is a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Midnight is an ugly chipped plate
that you only use when you are alone.
Sunset is a wise cat who ignores you
even when you are offering food; her conception
of what life is, or isn't, far exceeds our own.
This moment is a desert at midnight,
the hunting moon is full, and owls
fly through a cloudless sky.
The past is a winding, green river valley
deep between pine covered ridges;
what can you make of that?
Night is a secret plant growing inky black against the sky.
When this plant's life is over, then day returns
like a drunken husband who stayed out until breakfast.
A smile is a quick glimpse at the pretty face of hope.
Hope's face is framed by the beautiful night sky.
Hope's face is framed by the gray-blue dawn.
This is your life, these seconds and years
are the music for your only dance.
This is the eternity that you get to know.
A E Housman | |
"Is my team ploughing,
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?"
Ay, the horses trample,
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.
"Is football playing
Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?"
Ay, the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal.
"Is my girl happy,
That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?"
Ay, she lies down lightly,
She lies not down to weep,
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.
"Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?"
Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.
A E Housman | |
Twice a week the winter thorough
Here stood I to keep the goal:
Football then was fighting sorrow
For the young man's soul.
Now in Maytime to the wicket
Out I march with bat and pad:
See the son of grief at cricket
Trying to be glad.
Try I will; no harm in trying:
Wonder 'tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of man from lying
On the bed of earth.
More great poems below...
Philip Larkin | |
In this dream that dogs me I am part
Of a silent crowd walking under a wall,
Leaving a football match, perhaps, or a pit,
All moving the same way.
After a while
A second wall closes on our right,
Pressing us tighter.
We are now shut in
Like pigs down a concrete passage.
When I lift
My head, I see the walls have killed the sun,
And light is cold.
Now a giant whitewashed D
Comes on the second wall, but much too high
For them to recognise: I await the E,
Watch it approach and pass.
We have ceased walking and travel
Like water through sewers, steeply, despite
The tread that goes on ringing like an anvil
Under the striding A.
My arm to shield my face, for we must pass
Beneath the huge, decapitated cross,
White on the wall, the T, and I cannot halt
The tread, the beat of it, it is my own heart,
The walls of my room rise, it is still night,
I have woken again before the word was spelt.
Harold Pinter | |
We blew the shit out of them.
We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!
Praise the Lord for all good things.
We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.
Praise the Lord for all good things.
We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.
We did it.
Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.
Howard Nemerov | |
You know the old story Ann Landers tells
About the houseife in her basement doing the wash?
She's wearing her nightie, and she thinks, "Well, hell,
I might's well put this in as well," and then
Being dripped on by a leaky pipe puts on
Her son's football helmet; whereupon
The meter reader happens to walk through
and "Lady," he gravely says, "I sure hope your team wins.
A story many times told in many ways,
The set of random accidents redeemed
By one more accident, as though chaos
Were the order that was before the creation came.
That is the way things happen in the world:
A joke, a disappointment satisfied,
As we walk through doing our daily round,
Reading the meter, making things add up.
Wilfred Owen | |
He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow.
Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.
About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,
-- In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,
All of them touch him like some queer disease.
There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.
One time he liked a bloodsmear down his leg,
After the matches carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join.
He wonders why .
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts.
That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts,
He asked to join.
He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; and no fears
Of Fear came yet.
He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
To-night he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?
Barry Tebb | |
(To Paul Sykes, author of 'Sweet Agony')
He demolished five doors at a sitting
And topped it off with an outsize window
One Christmas afternoon, when drunk;
Sober he smiled like an angel, bowed,
Kissed ladies’ hands and courtesy
Was his middle name.
She tried to pass for thirty at fifty-six,
Called him "My Sweet piglet" and laid out
Dainty doylies for his teatime treats; always
She wore black from toe to top and especially
Underneath, her hair dyed black, stuck up in a
Bun, her lipstick caked and smeared, drawling
From the corner of her mouth like a
Thirties gangsters’ moll, her true ambition.
"Kill him, kill him, the bastard!" she’d scream
As all Wakefield watched, "It’s Grotty,
Grotty’s at it again!" as pubs and clubs
Banned them, singly or together and they
Moved lodgings yet again, landlords and
Landladies left reeling behind broken doors.
Blood-smeared walls covered with a shiny
Patina of carefully applied deceits! "It was
The cat, the kids, them druggies, lads from
Football", anyone, anywhere but him and her.
Once I heard them fight, "Barry, Barry, get
The police," she thumped my door, double
Five-lever mortice locked against them,
"Call t’ police ‘e’s murderin’ me!" I went
And calmed her down, pathetic in black
Underwear and he, suddenly sober, sorry,
Muttering, "Elaine, Elaine, it were only fun,
Give me a kiss, just one.
Was this her fourth or fifth husband, I’d
Lost count and so had she, each one she said
Was worse than the last, they’d all pulled her
Down, one put her through a Dorothy Perkins
Plate-glass window in Wakefield’s midnight,
Leaving her strewn amongst the furs and
Bridal gowns, blood everywhere, such perfection
Of evidence they nearly let her bleed to death
Getting all the photographs.
Rumour flew and grew around her, finally
They said it was all in a book one ‘husband’
Wrote in prison, how she’d had a great house,
Been a brothel madame, had servants even.
For years I chased that book, "Lynch," they
Told me, "It’s by Paul Lynch" but it wasn’t,
Then finally, "I remember, Sykes, they allus
Called him Sykesy" and so it was, Sweet Agony,
Written in prison by one Paul Sykes, her most
Famous inamorato, amateur boxing champion
Of all England, twenty years inside, fly-pitcher
Supreme, king of spielers; how she hated you
For beating her, getting it all down on paper,
Even making money for doing it, "That bastard
Cheated me, writing lying filth about me and
I never saw a penny!" she’d mutter, side-mouthed,
To her pals.
But that book, that bloody book, was no pub myth,
It even won an Arthur Koestler Literary Award
And is compulsive reading; hardly, as a poet,
My cup of tea but I couldn’t put it down.
Paul Sykes, I salute you, immortaliser of Elaine,
Your book became and is my sweetest pain.
Vernon Scannell | |
They did not expect this.
Being neither wise nor brave
And wearing only the beauty of youth's season
They took the first turning quite unquestioningly
And walked quickly without looking back even once.
It was of course the wrong turning.
First they were nagged
By a small wind that tugged at their clothing like a dog;
Then the rain began and there was no shelter anywhere,
Only the street and the rows of houses stern as soldiers.
Though the blood chilled, the endearing word burnt the tongue.
There were no parks or gardens or public houses:
Midnight settled and the rain paused leaving the city
Enormous and still like a great sleeping seal.
At last they found accommodation in a cold
Furnished room where they quickly learnt to believe in ghosts;
They had their hope stuffed and put on the mantelpiece
But found, after a while, that they did not notice it.
While she spends many hours looking in the bottoms of teacups
He reads much about association football
And waits for the marvellous envelope to fall:
Their eyes are strangers and they rarely speak.
They did not expect this.
Delmore Schwartz | |
"the withness of the body" --Whitehead
The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.
Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.
That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.
Anne Sexton | |
There was an unwanted child.
Aborted by three modern methods
she hung on to the womb,
hooked onto I
building her house into it
and it was to no avail,
to black her out.
At her birth
she did not cry,
but did not yell--
instead snow fell out of her mouth.
As she grew, year by year,
her hair turned like a rose in a vase,
and bled down her face.
Rocks were placed on her to keep
the growing silent,
and though they bruised,
they did not kill,
though kill was tangled into her beginning.
They locked her in a football
but she merely curled up
and pretended it was a warm doll's house.
They pushed insects in to bite her off
and she let them crawl into her eyes
pretending they were a puppet show.
grown fully, as they say,
they gave her a ring,
and she wore it like a root
ans said to herself,
"To be not loved is the human condition,"
and lay like a stature in her bed.
by terrible chance,
love took her in his big boat
and she shoveled the ocean
in a scalding joy.
love seeped away,
the boat turned into paper
and she knew her fate,
Turn where you belong,
into a deaf mute
that metal house,
let him drill you into no one.
Andrew Barton Paterson | |
Awake, of Muse, the echoes of a day
Long past, the ghosts of mem'ries manifold --
Youth's memories that once were green and gold
But now, alas, are grim and ashen grey.
The drowsy schoolboy wakened up from sleep,
First stays his system with substantial food,
Then off for school with tasks half understood,
Alas, alas, that cribs should be so cheap!
The journey down to town -- 'twere long to tell
The storm and riot of the rabble rout;
The wild Walpurgis revel in and out
That made the ferry boat a floating hell.
What time the captive locusts fairly roared:
And bulldog ants, made stingless with a knife,
Climbed up the seats and scared the very life
From timid folk, who near jumped overboard.
The hours of lessons -- hours with feet of clay
Each hour a day, each day more like a week:
While hapless urchins heard with blanched cheek
The words of doom "Come in on Saturday".
The master gowned and spectacled, precise,
Trying to rule by methods firm and kind
But always just a little bit behind
The latest villainy, the last device,
Born of some smoothfaced urchin's fertile brain
To irritate the hapless pedagogue,
And first involve him in a mental fog
Then "have" him with the same old tale again.
The "bogus" fight that brought the sergeant down
To that dark corner by the old brick wall,
Where mimic combat and theatric brawl
Made noise enough to terrify the town.
But on wet days the fray was genuine,
When small boys pushed each other in the mud
And fought in silence till thin streams of blood
Their dirty faces would incarnadine.
The football match or practice in the park
With rampant hoodlums joining in the game
Till on one famous holiday there came
A gang that seized the football for a lark.
Then raged the combat without rest or pause,
Till one, a hero, Hawkins unafraid
Regained the ball, and later on displayed
His nose knocked sideways in his country's cause.
Before the mind quaint visions rise and fall,
Old jokes, old students dead and gone:
And some that lead us still, while some toil on
As rank and file, but "Grammar" children all.
And he, the pilot, who has laid the course
For all to steer by, honest, unafraid --
Truth is his beacon light, so he has made
The name of the old School a living force.
James Wright | |
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
Robert William Service | |
The General now lives in town;
He's eighty odd, they say;
You'll see him strolling up and down
The Prada any day.
He goes to every football game,
The bull-ring knows his voice,
And when the people cheer his name
Moscardo must rejoice.
Yet does he, in the gaiety
Of opera and ball,
A dingy little cellar see,
A picture on a wall?
A portrait of a laughing boy
Of sixteen singing years .
Oh does his heart dilate with joy,
Or dim his eyes with tears?
And can he hear a wistful lad
Speak on the telephone?
"Hello! How is it with you, Dad?
That's right - I'm all alone.
They say they'll shoot me at the dawn
If you do not give in .
But never mind, Dad - carry on:
You know we've got to win.
And so they shot him at the dawn.
No bandage irked his eyes,
A lonely lad, so wistful wan,
He made his sacrifice.
he saw above the Citadel
His flag of glory fly,
And crying: "long live Spain!" he fell
And died as heroes die.
Marriott Edgar | |
Joe Dunn were a bobby for football
He gave all his time to that sport,
He played for the West Wigan Whippets,
On days when they turned out one short.
He’d been member of club for three seasons
And had grumbled again and again,
Cos he found only time that they’d used him,
Were when it were pouring with rain!
He felt as his talents were wasted
When each week his job seemed to be
No but minding the clothes for the others
And chucking clods at referee!
So next time selection committee
Came round to ask him for his sub
He told them if they didn’t play him,
He’d transfer to some other club.
Committee they coaxed and cudgelled him
But found he’d have none of their shifts
So they promised to play him next weekend
In match against Todmorden Swifts.
This match were the plum of the season
An annual fixture it stood,
‘T were reckoned as good as a cup tie
By them as liked plenty of blood!
The day of the match dawned in splendour
A beautiful morning it were
With a fog drifting up from the brick fields
And a drizzle of rain in the air.
The Whippets made Joe their goalkeeper
A thing as weren’t wanted at all
For they knew once battle had started
They’d have no time to mess with the ball!
Joe stood by the goal posts and shivered
While the fog round his legs seemed to creep
'Til feeling neglected and lonely
He leant back and went fast asleep.
He dreamt he were playing at Wembley
And t’roar of a thundering cheer
He were kicking a goal for the Whippets
When he woke with a clout in his ear!
He found 'twere the ball that had struck him
And inside the net there it lay
But as no one had seen this ‘ere ‘appen
He punted it back into play!
'Twere the first ball he’d punted in anger
His feelings he couldn’t restrain
Forgetting as he were goalkeeper
He ran out and kicked it again!
Then after the ball like a rabbit
He rushed down the field full of pride
He reckoned if nobody stopped him
Then ‘appen he’d score for his side.
‘Alf way down he bumped into his captain
Who weren’t going to let him go by
But Joe, like Horatio Nelson
Put a fist to the Captain’s blind eye!
On he went 'til the goal lay before him
Then stopping to get himself set
He steadied the ball, and then kicked it
And landed it right in the net!
The fog seemed to lift at that moment
And all eyes were turned on the lad
The Whippets seemed kind of dumbfounded
While the Swifts started cheering like mad!
'Twere his own goal as he’d kicked the ball through
He’d scored for his foes ‘gainst his friends
For he’d slept through the referee’s whistle
And at half time he hadn’t changed ends!
Joe was transferred from the West Wigan Whippets
To the Todmorden Swifts, where you’ll see
Still minding the clothes for the others
And chucking clods at referee!