Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, Poetry | Tags: Basketball Photography, Basketball Poetry, Lowell, Tom Meschery
Our red brick square gymnasium was an anachronism
Among the steel-ribbed, concrete muscled ellipses
And angles of the day; it was full of shadows –
The floor corduroy, the backboards wood
And the rims were bent with age
(the relentless ricochet of basketballs),
It had none of the embellishments
Found in more modern gyms.
It was simply a no-nonsense structure
Built to house players not spectators.
Surrounded by its gray walls and wrinkled floor
We practiced two-to-six, six days a week.
And throughout that time – four years –
Our coach, who was as old as the building,
Taunted and inspired us, swore and cajoled us,
He taught us to play without frills.
We became red brick and corduroy
And learned to see through shadows.
by Tom Meschery
Solid but not spectacular. Good hands. Pure passer. Looks like a man.
I went for the loose ball and I felt my knee move. Then I felt it give up underneath me.
Blow-by abilities. A surprisingly pure outside shot. Bit of a hot dog.
Coach was up in Sean’s face, and I swear, he was two seconds away from decking him. Go ahead, ask anybody who was there. Ask them. Sean’s my boy, so… I don’t care who you are. Even if you are the coach. That’s when I decided to step in.
Brings a calming influence. A quality desire.
You could see the two state troopers walking up in the rear view mirror, moving in all the red and blue light. I remember I was trying to see their faces. I don’t know. I thought maybe, somehow, I’d recognize one of them. Or they’d recognize me. And it would be alright.
A pure wing. Flashes of quality. Looks like he’s just now getting good.
You should have seen his brother. Oh yeah, his brother was even better. Bigger, too. I played against him once in Arizona. He got benched. Why? For grades, I think. He quit the team. I never saw him again.
by Jake Lemkowitz
Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, Photography, Poetry | Tags: Basketball Poetry, Cliff Dweller
you realize that
the spirit of the universe
swirls around you
like a gentle
The lowering sun beckons
your eyes and nothing else
This is all you need
This is your life,
that hunk of
one city street,
and you become
a thing of beauty
the evening’s stillness
with this pumpkin
in your hand
to be outside
because you have
a small hole to fill
A net of darkness
that you love
more than a best friend
Street lights are shining again
in the shadow of the city
You’re in the middle,
catching the ball
before you leap
as high as Olympus
And suddenly you see
on the ball
the very last drop
by Cliff Dweller
photo via waiting4brooklyn
Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, Poetry | Tags: Basketball Culture, Basketball Photography, Basketball Poetry, Native American Basketball, Sherman Alexie
It is just a game
we are told by those
who cannot play it
unless it is play.
For us, it is war,
and without reason.
We throw our body
body. We learn to
hate each other, hate
the ball, hate the hoop,
hate the fallen snow,
hate our clumsy hands,
hate our thirsty mouths
when we drink from
the fountain. We hate
our fathers. We hate
our mothers. We hate
the face in our mirror.
We play basketball
because we want to
separate love from
hate, and because we
know how to keep score.
– Excerpted from Sherman Alexie’s five-part poem, Why We Play Basketball
Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, Poetry, War | Tags: Basketball Poetry, Kevin Bowen, Vietnam, War Poetry
You never thought it would come to this,
that afternoon in the war
when you leaned so hard into the controls
you almost became part of the landscape:
just you, the old man, the old woman
and their buffalo.
You never thought then
that this grey-haired man in sandals
smoking Gauloises on your back porch,
drinking your beer, his rough cough
punctuating tales of how he fooled
the French in 54,
would arrive at your back door
to call you out to shoot some baskets, friend.
If at first he seems awkward,
before long he’s got it down.
His left leg lifts from the ground,
his arms arch back then forward
from the waist to release the ball
arcing to the hoop, one, two, …
ten straight times. You stare at him
in his tee shirt, sandals, and shorts.
Yes, he smiles. It’s a gift,
good for bringing gunships down
as he did in the Delta
and in other places where, he whispers,
there may be other scores to settle.
by Kevin Bowen
photo: Huy Nguyen