What Is Football?

What is football?
days watching men collide
between beer commercials
hours spent, taken by
network television

What is football?
toss the pigskin, eat grilled meat
tailgate with chubby fans
wearing jerseys in parking lots
full of charcoal and puke

What is football?
weightlifting, combine, chalk lines
running 40 yard sprints
hands reaching out, cradling
touchdowns, drunk cheers and jeers

What is football?
sleep-deprived coaches studying
film, like planning D-Day’s invasion
toradol shots blocking pain to
endure injuries that linger lifelong

What is football?
bull in the ring, he got his bell rung
concussion, brain banging, cells dying
headaches, depression, careers over
hobbled husbands, broken bodies

My 9/11/01

the second tower went down
when I was in the car
heard disbelief, NPR like me
unable to stay calm, explaining
the before of white shirts waving for help
specks of humanity jumping out of windows
their hail hit while
I was eating my cereal flakes

at school, televisions on in every room
sirens rushing sound all over screens
the towers falling over and over again
repetition like practice, it happened, it happened

“what does this mean?” I asked my students
as if they knew
“we are going to war,” one said
he wasn’t wrong

I put my classroom flag out in the hall
duct taped it up for all to see
half-staff in my mind
everything in disarray
some TVs stayed on the whole day

kids asked the one teacher from Manhattan
who she knew there
almost excited to hear loss firsthand
like watching people on CNN
holding photos of sisters, mothers, dads
the missing
the forever gone