“Football” by Louis Jenkins
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
I take the snap from the center, fake to the right, fade back... I've got protection. I've got a receiver open downfield... What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air. I realize that this is a world where anything is possible and I understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities, one has to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not going to throw it.
from Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems, 1995
Holy Cow! Press, Duluth, Minn.
Copyright 1995 by Louis Jenkins.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books from Call and Response. Copyright 1995 by Forrest Hamer. For further permissions information, contact Alice James Books, 238 Main St., Farmington, ME 04938, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Poet
Louis Jenkins is the author of over a dozen collections of prose poetry, including Tin Flag: New and Selected Poems (Will o’ the Wisp Books, 2013). Born in Oklahoma, Jenkins has lived in Duluth, Minnesota, for over 30 years, and his work is regularly featured on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion.
Learn more about Louis Jenkins at The Poetry Foundation.