Cup, #161

The world over, the hordes
have gathered round
their TVs. The diodes warmed
and tuners tuned
into one thing. The world
over a billion minions
are planning celebrations.
Hoping to host a party
like lottery winners,
and with the same chances.
They will line the streets
to welcome home their
conquering heros.
The boys in fatigues
who still have their arms,
who can walk home.
It’s the first day.
Everyone in the brackets
is tied. In the far east, people
are sleeping
while in the fatherland,
stadiums fill with rabid fans
clad in shirts and hats,
wrapped in flags
and painted faces
to resemble the old gods,
the ancient kings,
the new warriors at work
on the floor of the colosseum.
Nowadays no one calls
out to burn Christians.
We call this civilization,
that we don’t holler
for blood anymore
and that what’s left
of our wars are nothing
but metaphors.
A simile says that soccer
is like sex, all trouble,
and no guarantee of gol.
The coach and two of his players
on the national team
weren’t born here.
If they couldn’t run well
we’d call them invaders.
These are hired guns,
mercenaries to the cause.
Wasn’t it the Hessians
who slept while Washington
crossed the Delaware?
Back home, the masses
are massing round the sets
and chanting, shouting instructions
against the one sided airwaves,
subjecting themselves
to the menial anguish
of advertisers, and for what?
Tomorrow these men will be meet
to discuss ways to peddle
their wares to these fans.
They chant for the chance
to kiss the feet of their native soil,
of the land they once called home.
It’s an old and tired cry.
The ball is round
and passes through triangles
of teammates, at times
to be intercepted
and carried off
in another direction.
This is our debate. My wife
in the other room screaming
her fool head off. Never, not once
in our marriage, have I been able
to make her scream
like that. The ball is both the earth
and the conversation
we are having. We must do
what we can to keep the dirt down,
wet it with just enough water
to keep it from flying up
into the heavens, or falling
into revolution. We must
defend the homeland, protect it
from all enemies foreign
and domestic.
And if no such enemies exist,
we must invent them,
to make sure the fans
feel comfortable with their face paint
and the t-shirt they bought. We kick
and should kick ourselves
for not doing more. We assume
every loss as if
it were our own. We kick up dust
and cloud the issues. We hijack
the debate
and the podium. We spend
our days with our faces
wrapped in burqas knit
from multicolored flags
and like colorblind bulls
blindly follow the capes
being whipped in the breeze
to agitate us. There is a fire
in our nose. Behind that killer’s
banner is nothingness. We swear
this time we will not
let our guard down
or in any way
be vulnerable. Like Lucy
with the football, we will not
realize until we are flat
on our backs; Snoopy
was a World War II pilot. The test
of civilization is learning;
from our mistakes, from
our philosophers, from
our artwork. When we
wall off the debate and raise
ticket prices until a seat
at the stadium costs too much
for anyone of us to attend, when
the only people who get to see,
up close, the face of the lions
are the ones who bought
and sold them, we are forced
to imagine a world in means
of a ball kicked in brotherhood
from nation to nation. Where
are the murals
we should be drawing? I’m cheering
for Angola. It’s all downhill
from here. At the bottom
is a pit where we will discard
the bodies. But one country
will walk away with a trophy
and for a euphoric hour
declare itself king
of the world. All the kings
we have left
are symbolic. But, the poor folk
and rich folk will mingle
in the streets, hug
at the bar downtown,
and for one long night, set fire
to everything. Funny, this happens
in the hometowns too
of the losers. By the next morning
it will be back to suits
and ties, to figuring out
how to carve up the spoils
of the workingman’s living,
to keep the burros
in the fields of toil, to keep
them with their back
to the stands,
playing defense.
For now cheer up
and cheer, hope you had
something to do with it.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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