Twelfth Man

Stadia empty,
Thousands of seats,
Just like Maymana’s,
They hanged
Oppositions by
The skin of
Their teeth.
Bleachers for ghosts,
Capitalists disrobed,
Revealing themselves,
En masse opportunists
Inadvertantly proving
Forks in their mouths.
They used to say
Your lungs must swell
With tribal songs,
Partisan songs,
Forgotten origins,
Often abusive,
Made bold by a throng;
If you could buy
Magazines on matchday
That would certainly help
The eleven along.

When your team’s
In trouble, you’re a
Wind at their backs,
Oxygen as thick
As an Aeolian god’s
In their muscles.
They said ‘you are
The difference’,
Fine margins, they said,
Alongside dietary carbon,
Training regimes
And abstinence;
We created the seams,
Winnings and loss,
They would have you
Treat brothers
As starving stray dogs
If this prevented
A punt or a shot.

Artificial sounds
Abound around
The groundsman’s turf,
A theory from executives
No less, God Bless,
Who should have greater
Concerns to consider
Than how audiences
With flexible payment
Plans, glued at home,
Might feel more at ease
And comfortable, more
Palatable, like watching
A weather forecast
Before hangings
With popcorn.

Teams do not need
A twelfth man
When a crowd can
Be appropriated.
It’s another illusion,
Another corporate
Wolf disguised by
Their own myths;
They’ve taken all
Life’s purities,
Alchemied to
Monied dross.

Recordings of crowds!
Dictators do something
Similar, and photoshop
Inaugural scenes of
Huge adoring numbers,
Thin as a toupe turned
As thick as my hair in
Sixteen weeks
Of pandemic.
Recordings yes,
From before the
Outbreak,
Delirium, for a ball
In a net or between
Two sticks
They did not see
By eleven men
They had not met.

So if I extend this
Principle as only
Poets are able,
What else are we told
In this abstract
Lonely world must
Make a difference,
(Until we thrust and
Pour our pennies and
Our hopes down the
Open throats of those
Made rich by our
Poverty of thought,
Of those constructs
We would have worn
A shirt for, would
Vote in their flags
And sworn allegiance,
Would sometimes see
Our sons die before
Their cause, buried in a
Small and unkempt
Cemetery on the hill
Behind our village;
And yet, when all’s
Peeled back like
A dead girl’s eyelids,
Sometimes with time,
Sometimes by cynics,
Stripped, laid bare,
Rabbits dressed as hares
With nothing significant
In their stomachs),
But which instead
Mattered not once
Through heaven’s
Grafted hours
Nor the grace of
Earthly minutes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s