Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
The men on the sideline wearing
warm up suits exist. Head coaches
often spring from their seats like
volatile prairie dogs. How players
prove nightly that existence
is futile. When MCLs and Achilles heels
pop, glistening athletes in sheets
of agony, the hopes of entire cities
dribbled into dust, as if there will no longer
be dusk or success. How fucking stupid
I think wasting hours each week
with sneaker squeaks inside gyms raised
to basilica status. The surgeries I’ve had
and catheters and how these men
are overused, old at thirty-five, ancient
at forty. Brawls and head-butts at half court,
enlarged hearts, divine idolatry. All this bliss
and dormant rage. To see people develop
and endure then get bled by the burden
they were pushed to accept.
These arteries breed cheese.
Dairy cows stampede toward
failure. It’s important to allow
yourself some negativity.
Consolatory cuts, babycakes.
You’re under my thumb,
the weather, cover your
eyes and melt in the river.
The meat falls off your bones.
Consider this your cheat day.
Consider how stubborn men
raze the state capitol
to improve the infrastructure
of approval ratings. Go hollow.
Go bless the sports stadium.
These factories make graters
and heart craters. What’s your
wrong turn? Saying education
is for leeches or teachers
sluggish with tenure?
The wizard refuses to reveal
himself or ask you to dance.
Not everyone wants to tango.
Fine folks footing the hills,
homes made of credit cards,
do they know what it means
to be haunted? They know
what it means to be haunted
and cornered. Your sadness
is another’s glitzy beach wedding.
Your sadness is merino.
Your sadness breathes well.
Stephen Danos is author of the chapbooks Missing Slides (Horse Less Press, 2016), DO NOT WANT (alice blue books, 2015) and Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012). His poems and writing have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, City Arts, Columbia Poetry Review, Fanzine, Pleiades, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He is Editor-in-Chief of Pinwheel and lives in Seattle.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.