They Steal From Bukowski

9781250004635

But this has nothing to do with Sir Charles.
Used to be if a basketball game was on
TV and I was aware of it, I’d watch.
Coppin State versus I.U.P.U.I.? Yes,
unless, of course, they’re playing opposite the
Cincinnati Bearcats of the Great Midwest.
I was born about an hour north of there
in a place most people can’t find on a map.

There wasn’t much to do in the evenings
other than shoot baskets in my driveway and
get yelled at for bouncing the ball too loudly
by one of my insane, elderly neighbors.
This little old lady would stroll up with a
cigarette in her teeth and mock me for not
being able to dribble with my left hand,
then her husband would walk out in white shirt
with a blue devil on it and say, “Go Duke,”
until I put the ball down and went inside.
So yeah, I watched a lot of television.

Luckily for me, the Bearcats were good then.
They went to the Final Four in the nineties,
but fell to the Fab Five of Michigan, who
lost to Satan’s Basketball Team (i.e. Duke).
The next year they went out in the Elite Eight.
North Carolina beat them in overtime
and I almost had two heart attacks that day.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped watching hoops.
Life goes on, though. Cincy’s playing well this year.
Turns out they didn’t need me cheering for them.

Right now a guy from my hometown plays for Duke.
You know . . . the villains? He joined The Empire,
which is both terrible and appropriate,
because his name’s Luke. One of his teammates is
Scut Farkus all grow’d up and playing two guard,
tripping rivals and pretending to be tripped
in a tiny field house on tobacco row
in front of 9,000 of the loudest cunts
you could dare to imagine. Straight-A students.
Rhodes Scholars. Future leaders of this nation,
gleefully chanting, “Your mother is a whore,”
at the opposing small forward who lost his
mother the week before and … God I hate Duke.
I hate everything they stand for. Things like
top-notch basketball… elite education…
proper grammar in all the boring poems…

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