Enter Home Planet News Poetry of Issue #6                         Page 39
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STILL

You can still walk
upstairs to your old room
during family barbecues,
shuffle through shoe boxes
of baseball cards, drag
your finger across albums
stacked in milk crates,
lie back on the mattress
and listen to basketballs
drumming blacktop courts

like hearts beating. Thirteen,
you sit with your back pressed
against the handball wall,
your sweat drying. Grot, Motlow
and The Bean: older, cooler
talking Saturday night:
a backseat blowjob, tit fuck
in the Little League dugout
and this new girl Lisa
who kept her dead father’s .38
tucked under the pillow
while she did it. You keep

quiet, your voice still
shaking from last night
when you asked the prettiest
girl in class to Rye Beach
and Julia Jordan said yes,
she’d love to. You’ll ride
the wild Mouse, climb the Wall
of Death and tongue kiss
in every tunnel. A gun

goes off in the Red Hook
Projects. This time, a white
school principal lies dead.
A building’s blown to pieces
in Oklahoma and Mickey
Mantle needs a new liver.
Your younger brother’s tumor
will be removed Monday morning
and you’re turning thirty-nine
next month. You lace up

sneakers, fill a basketball
with stale air and race
your niece to the schoolyard.
That Jeopardy jingle ticks
across your tongue. You list
the women you slept with,
run out of names before
your minute is up. You swear
you loved three of them,
Julia, Erica, Hilary,
your own holy trinity,
and still can’t believe

you’re alone now. Your niece
takes the first lay-up.
Her pony tail bounces,
new pointy breasts press
against her sweat shirt
and the ball feathers
through the net. You sense
those same guys standing
on the sidelines, finishing
another six pack. They watch

Christine run and jump,
try to forget a wife
caught shoplifting again, sick
and dying parents, a retarded
granddaughter and wonder
how good it would feel
to be the first man
to make slow, tender love
to this girl. You grab

a rebound. She cups her fist
into a microphone, announces
your team’s losing by two
with five seconds left
on the clock. You dribble
behind the three point line
as she starts to count down
to the buzzer. You set
your feet in slow, old
man motion, launch the ball
in a soft arc. At seventeen

you knew the shot
was good the instant
it left your fingertips.
The ball would kiss
that same sweet spot
on the backboard, pour
down like a winning
slot machine. You’d walk
off the court slapping
palms, nodding good game.

You’d hop in your car,
stop home for a quick shower
and pick up your girl
by six. You’d graduate
in June, spend the summer
hitching to California
and back. Back to Erica,
a jacket and tie job, church
wedding, two kids, adjacent
gravesites. You watch the ball
all the way today, guide it
with body English. Still,
the shot rims out. Damn.
You jog three blocks home,
hurry to catch your train.
Christine gives you a high
five and kisses your cheek, asks
about next week. You picture
doctors leaning over, digging
out a cancerous hard ball
from her father’s arm pit.
You cross your heart, promise
you’ll see her next week. Tonight

it’s home sweet home,
a quiet three room apartment
in Queens. You might clean
the bathroom, do laundry,
read the book review section,
put Sam Cooke, Bruce, Jr. Walker
on the stereo. You’ll call
your brother, try to find
something helpful to say.
You’ll pick up a pen,
fill a blank pad with everything

you leave out. Your new
neighbor’s nearly beautiful
if she knocks, you’ll hand over
your whole bowl of sugar.
You’ll pay bills, skip
one hundred sit-ups, read
the Personal pages and wish
you had the balls to call
Hilary, talk for hours
and tell her you still

love her. You’ll set
the alarm for seven,
watch the late news: Clinton,
Gingrich, Giuliani, Sharpton.
Subway service cuts. Chance
of rain Tuesday evening.
Yanks lose again. The fat
and skinny guy review
two movies. You fall
asleep. One thumb up.

From Skidrow Penthouse


  Tony Gloeggler