There is no time like it again in life
that drum roll kettle rattling
too-late-now let's-go-for-it feeling
as you stand in the glare
of the October sun and commit yourself

to the just-kicked ball which spins lazily
upward, higher as the opposing linemen
stampede in your direction ready to prove how
bad they are with your blood on the first play.

Blind, indifferent rage which you
understand but have no time for and decide
in a second not to call for a fair catch
as heart racing with adrenalin you still
haven't made your move or got your blocker lined up
and can't until the ball starts its downward arc.
You hear to your left the roar in the stands
impossible to tell for what or whom

maybe for your broken body
lying beneath a rack of tacklers end-zoned
or for the hope that you'll catch the ball
as you do now and putting a quick fake

on the point man spinning off another tackle
you pick up your blockers in a flying wedge
and run it to the twenty
the thirty the forty-five
where you're finally brought down in what

even Bubba and Tiny have to admit
is pretty good field position for a
chickenshit white boy

"Kickoff" © copyright 1989, 1998 by Michael Hogan.
Reprinted from Imperfect Geographies (Q-Trips, 1998).