(Writing wretched verse so you don’t have to since 1995)
Michael Jordan Chews Gum
Substantially harder than you or me
a clamping motion that knots the muscles
of his already severely toned presagital ridge
and speaks to some higher form of scorekeeping,
some list of punishments to be soon visited
alike on helpless and hubristic foe:
dagger-hearted jumpers contortionist drives
Mexican-switch layups off-balance thrown downs
single touch behind the neck no-look passes
whupping whippet blocks ego-hurting stuffs
razzle dribble to the gullet happy rim burials
every which way he can and will beat you
is in that pulsing furious jaw, a rhythm
that dries the spit in your mouth, screws your feet
to the floor turns you into nothing more
than some chewed thing, some white worm
woken to the crowd in whimsical moments
then bedded under the red wag of his tongue
as he assumes a master’s rightful elevation
I’m not sure it’s any great secret that the majority of men in this country spent the Nineties in love with Michael Jordan, but it takes a Bad Poet to offer up verse of this homoerotic magnitude. I didn’t just want to be like Mike, people. I wanted to be his gum. I wanted Mike to gnash my little Jewish body into a sticky pulp of interracial desire, preferably in the midst a razzle dribble. I wanted to become his chew toy, his tongue slave, his happy gullet happy rim burial. And I wanted to do this while chanting the phrase “presagital ridge” over and over in Yiddish accent. From. Inside. Michael. Jordan’s. Mouth.
And you think you’re kinky.
What was the Bad Poet text lurking beneath the actual Bad Poem? Yes, I thought Michael Jordan was rilly good, but I also wanted people to know that commas were a mostly unnecessary syntactical flourish and that I was “down” with the inversion of the Master/Slave power dynamic as enacted by the Modern Athletic Industry and that the rest of the poesy jock sniffers out there had sudden company. Ferlinghetti with his quaint “Baseball Canto” and Dickey flashing sado-masochistic gaga eyes at Vince Lombardi and Komunyakaa making his slick odes to street ball – these guys were about to get served. It was nothing personal. They were just in the wrong lane at the wrong time.
Years before I’d pooped this whippet into existence, I saw Jordan play live. Of course I did. Me and a pal weaseled our way into the media lounge of the Miami Arena, uncredentialed and deliciously terrified, then onto an elevator that spat us into the maw of the building. He scored 35 that night, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. This was supposed to be his swansong, so I counted myself as lucky to be there, in the nosebleeds, watching him glide off picks and bury those feathery fall-away fifteen footers. There was probably a poem in all this, my own dumb luck, the longing for grace and heroism that Jordan personified, my own failures as a man. But I went with the gum, the blunt force envy, the contrived jive patter, the pathetic slam dunk you perform on the kiddie basket when you think nobody is watching – just to feel what it would be like.
Which brings us to this little beaut, sent in by Sue Amiss of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Ms. Amiss was no doubt unaware that I am a stupid vapid freckled thing, for which she will be (eventually) forgiven.
Naked and Proud
You cannot be a coward if you’re stupid
Because the stupid do not know that going
Unquestioningly where the stupid group did
Is cowardly, and cowardice is knowing
Your cowardice but being more afraid
Of some stupid little vapid freckled thing
Than how your mere reflecting starts to fade,
A shadow in the gray, and darkening.
You cannot be a hero if you’re stupid
Because a hero first must fear the darkness,
Then trace the lights of stars back to their homes.
The stupid cannot see that they are naked;
Heroes know the body is a carcass;
The cowards—naked and ashamed—write the poems.
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