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Reserve squad.


"Thank God for the athlete and their rejection. Without them, there
would have been no emotional need, and ... I'd be a crackerjack
salesman in the Garment District." --Mel Brooks

   Reserved for what? we asked ourselves
   --the four-eyed, the clumsy, the pint-sized,
   ungainly in cleats and shoulder pads,
   left to tape on the droopy pants stretched
   out and discarded by first-string
   guards and tackles, who turned us into
   blocking dummies, knocking us carp-eyed,
   drawing blood. For games, we got plain
   helmets and nameless jerseys. Cheerleaders,
   high-kicking, sang out the age-old promise
   to the victors: "First and ten! Do it again!"

   We didn't think they sang for us,
   Prufrock jocks, benched for the season,
   unlisted in the program, offside, out
   of bounds, intentionally grounded
   in the pinched and fleeting realm
   of prom king and homecoming queen
   --till graduation, when we stood up,
   and it was first and ten, reserves.

William Trowbridge's latest poetry collection is Put This On, Please: New and Selected Poems (Red Hen Press, 2014). His collection Ship of Fool (Red Hen Press, 2011), includes the 2012 Pushcart Prize-winning poem "Roll Out the Fool." His other collections are The Complete Book of Kong (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), Flickers (University of Arkansas Press, 2000), O Paradise (University of Arkansas Press, 1995), and Enter Dark Stranger (University of Arkansas Press, 1989). He lives in the Kansas City area and teaches in the University of Nebraska Lowresidency MFA in Writing Program. He is the current Poet Laureate of Missouri.

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Author:Trowbridge, William
Publication:River Styx
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jul 1, 2015
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