Tag Archives: sports

NOW, THEN, OR WHEN?

It’s hard to keep topics timely.
Whatever I say or do,
Is often out of view.
What was said yesterday,
Is swallowed up by today.
Forgotten. Pushed aside. Covered up.
Two hundred girls, chemicals used,
A murder in our town,
What does timely mean
If we ignore what’s going down?
There’s not much we can do
If we only sit and stew.
How can we write with pride
If important things are set aside?
We have to be timely.

Hockey and Halloween

Pumpkinhead 4326

Image by PKMousie via Flickr

Mayhem at the Rink

(a Halloween tale)

One
Halloween night all creatures were astir,

Ready for
anything gross that might occur,

Blood
curdling screams and fights were about,

In the midst
of the mayhem a hockey game broke out,

From out of
the sky Count Dracula swooped down,

His voice
boomed out and was heard all around,

“I’ll issue
a challenge to any blood thirsty team,

You’re clumsy,
ugly and only good in your dreams,”

The ghouls,
zombies, and the walking dead,

Laced up
their blades and warmed up with Fred,

The Count
secretly had made a great plan,

He’d
gathered the quickest in all the land,

Wolves were
howling to get into the game,

Vampires and
goblins wanted the same,

The Count handpicked his team with cunning and care,

Freddie was
more casual but he continued to stare,

“Count, I
think you’ve got tricks up your sleeve,

Yet we’ll
give you a battle, I do believe,”

“Ah, Mr.
Krueger, there’s more than you think,

Pumpkinhead
will be the referee on this rink,”

With evil
grin the referee took his place,

“Are you
ready now to go face to face?

No sticking,
no slashing, the rules are clear,

If you don’t
play by the rules, you’re outta here!”

Jason, the
goalie, said, “Count, your entrance was slick,

Are you good
enough on ice to pull a hat trick?”

Fights were
frequent and often quite gory,

But there’s
much more to this bedtime story,

Hockey fans
gathered from all over the land,

Until there
was no place to sit or stand,

Blood
curdling screams continued to abound,

For hockey
fans are the most rabid around,

Tear off
his head,”  “The referee stinks,”

“Have any of
you ever been on a rink?”

The penalty
boxes were filled with players galore,

But the fans
kept shouting, “Blood! I want more!”

The game
continues from one year to the next,

If you see a
game starting, send me a text,

For I’ve
heard many screams and seen fights all about,

And I’m
willing to miss mayhem if a hockey game breaks out.

The Isle He Loves

The 2006 central Pacific cyclone

Image via Wikipedia

When evening
falls and the sea calls,

Where else
to be than the sea,

Rising on
the swells where dreams dwell,

There’s no
place to be but the sea,

Red skies at
night are his delight,

Storms have
passed him by,

A gentle
breeze upon his face,

As the deck
confines his space,

His thoughts
are on a world beyond,

Of places
where his heart is fond,

Tropical isles
wait there with room to spare,

Offering a
home away from home,

Natives who
appear are friendly and bare,

Diminishing
his need to roam,

The cadence
of drums fills the air,

Evoking
images of the dancers there,

As they
swayed with rhythm and grace,

Such a
beautiful way for his reveries to end,

As the
captain hurries back to his post,

There’s no
better place but the sea for him,

And the isle
he loves the most.

The Skunk and the KKK

"White" and "Jim Crow" rai...

Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t sure if it was another dream,

It was so real I could hear Willie scream,

They were back again,

 Chasing me, chasing him,

Just because we were friends,

Sometimes Willie and I would meet,

Play basketball on the same dirt street,

But Willie was black and I was white,

It bothered those who were uptight,

They threatened to take it to the extreme,

I woke, glad this time it was only a dream,

As the sun crept over the mountains green,

I slid into my hand-me-down jeans,

Mindful of the cold, I buttoned my coat,

Looked down at my feet, they seemed remote,

Decided to go barefoot even on the rocks,

Rather than wearing wet shoes and socks,

I raced to the barn and checked the sow,

She would have her litter any time now,

But she was still big and round,

Lying in a thin layer of straw off the ground,

Wanting to watch her, a ladder I found,

In the barn’s side room I climbed to the top,

Positioned myself on a rafter so I would not drop,

Thinking the sow had no choice but to allow,

But a scratching noise distracted me now,

Dirt was pulled away, then a pointed black nose,

When two button eyes appeared, I froze,

Instant recognition that I was treed,

Until she left, there was no way I could be freed,

The skunk sniffed the air delicately to check for a threat,

She smiled, I’m sure she smiled, at my drops of sweat,

She went around the room searching twice,

She scurried away after finding no mice,

“Breakfast! Come and get it before I throw it away!”

Dad called out. “We’ve all got work to do today.”

My brothers and sisters did our assigned chores,

I left with Dad so he could work in the store,

But once in town I beelined it to see Willie,

This time with shoes, it was rather chilly,

We were going to sneak in a basketball game,

Knowing it was risky, we went there just the same,

There was but one gym in this town,

No one but whites, no black or brown,

We had saved money so we didn’t really sneak,

We just wanted to watch, just one peek,

Several teenagers met us at the door,

“What did you two come here for?”

“You know your kind ain’t allowed in this gym,”

He glared at me, “You’ll get the same as him,”

Willie and I took off like bats from hell,

I could hear the boys cursing when one of them fell,

“We know where you live. We’ll get you at night,”

We worried we were too small to put up much fight,

Willie came home with me after we told my dad,

He was calm and collected, but I knew he was mad,

A rifle and a shotgun were readily at hand,

He was ready and able to make a stand,

But I thought for awhile and came up with a plan,

“Dad, don’t worry, the Kwanokasha will help fight,

I’ll have strength to get through this night,”

Then using Choctaw ways that I’d been taught,

I rigged a box for that skunk to be caught,

She seemed to know I meant her no harm,

But I watched for signs she was alarmed,

Later that night three cars pulled into view,

We waited silently as the suspense grew,

Willie waited at the window as our lookout,

Dad at the door with guns ready to spout,

As silent as a shadow to the barn and back,

I returned with the box ready for an attack,

At the car, flasks were emptied as they drank,

Around them I circled until finally at their flank,

I crept closer to see why they would hesitate,

Gasoline soaked torches were to be our fate,

They donned white sheets and prepared to go,

Another example of the infamous Jim Crow,

They were lighting torches close to the cars,

Thinking they were the only ones under the stars,

They didn’t see me when I tossed the skunk,

It hit right in the middle of a trunk, “KERPLUNK!”

The skunk wasn’t too happy at this turn of events,

And doused four of those scheming gents,

They scattered quickly as the scent hit the air,

Their scheme interrupted but they didn’t care,

Ghostly figures ran stumbling into the woods,

But all of them had forgotten their flaming goods,

The gasoline they had carried became a bomb,

The cars exploded loudly, one by one by one,

Soon it was over and the night was calm,

But around town for the next few days,

Several sullen people glanced my way,

I’m glad no newspapers showed to get our views,

A  neighboring state grabbed all the news,

When a governor with a baseball bat,

Said , “No blacks can enter, and that is that,”

Times have changed but there are still punks,

One of these days, they might meet a skunk.

Sons of Thunder

The Sons of Thunder

 

There were early warning signs that violence was on the way.  The two boys were untamed, unfettered, and usually unsupervised.  Their mother had disappeared mysteriously, leaving her husband alone with three children. The father refused any help from the community, insisting that the family would work out their own problems.  Alicia, the beautiful eldest child, reportedly kept the house running smoothly.  She and the boys, James and John, were always clean, fed, and well dressed. Their father, known to drink a bit but not to excess, paid the bills and saved money. Although the father was gone frequently and sometimes for long periods of time there wasn’t anything specifically anyone could point a finger at, yet we all knew there was danger lurking behind the façade.

Alicia never went on dates, although at sixteen she caught the eye of every eligible male in the surrounding areas.  Frankly, they were afraid to ask her out.  Her dad made it a point to seek out prospective suitors and let them know their lives were in danger around his house or around his daughter.  Alicia meekly followed orders, kept the house immaculate, and maintained her straight A average in high school.

John, the middle child, had an explosive temper that occurred with increasing frequency. Often I would confront him in school about some infraction and his face would become contorted with rage.  His voice would shake and obscenities would pour out. Sometimes I asked him to walk around the schoolyard in an effort to cool his anger.  I would watch him pick up a stick, point it at me, and pretend to shoot.  Since I knew he hunted the fields around the school and around my house it was reason for concern.  I knew he would seethe for hours until his anger finally abated.  John was also very intelligent.  He did well in his school subjects and also stayed informed about world politics. He had great plans for his future but I worried about his bouts of anger and how that anger controlled him at times.

John and James were unwelcome in neighboring homes because of their destructive hunting forays and their penchant for breaking things just for fun.  One day they followed their dog down the road and into the driveway of a neighbor’s house.  The dog chased chickens while the boys whooped their support.  Finally the neighbor stepped out of his house.  “You boys go home. I don’t want anything killing my chickens.”  The boys didn’t listen.  Instead they entered the barn and began breaking windows while the dog continued his relentless pursuit of squawking chickens.  The neighbor stepped out of his house onto his front porch, holding a shot-gun.  “Please take your dog home.  He doesn’t belong here. You go home, too!”  “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” 

The boys left, only to return a short time later with their dad.  He had two six shooters strapped to his sides, gunfighter style.  He confronted the neighbor.  “If you want to have a shoot-out, then let’s get to it.”  The neighbor backed down, uneasy about an altercation with a crazy man.  And so it went, from that moment the community shied away from any arguments with the dad.

The family business was another strange thing that was rarely discussed.  The dad made caskets.  The boys often bragged about their personal coffins, made from the finest materials and ready to be used. “You should see the polished wood and the blue silk.”  “When I die, dad will make mine even better,” the other replied.

James was known for his antics, his infectious smile, and his sudden angelic appearance.  He could be deeply in trouble and yet somehow escape unscathed.  Once, as a fifth grader, he had been caught peeping over a stall in the girl’s bathroom.  He received no punishment because he was so sorry it had ever happened.

One day in spring, after the fire at Christmas had burned the school totally, and we were in school at the church, a strange thing happened.  On this rare day James was sitting quietly in class trying to decipher the big words.  The teacher,  however, could not focus on the lesson.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “but there’s something that really stinks around here.”  She walked from chair to chair but to no avail.  She eventually walked to the closet.  “I think something died in there,” she announced to the class. She flung open the door and peered in, holding her nose.  The children’s coats were hung on pegs, waiting to be picked up.  The teacher went from coat to coat, sniffing and coughing.  She stopped at James’s coat.  “This coat stinks,” she said.  “What is the problem?”  James laughed.  “I slept with my dog in the bed last night,” he proclaimed.  “A skunk had sprayed it.  My dog was still scared so I hugged it all night.”

James was the center of the universe at times.  He could not read any words with more than four letters.  The principal proudly proclaimed he taught James to read.  Later, when James was discovered memorizing the lessons ahead, the principal was deflated and gave up.  He turned the task over to a young teacher who decided James was a worthy project.  For several weeks she toiled and James struggled onward. The reading project seemed a success until one day after school the woman turned her back on James.  He quickly closed the distance between them, reached around and cupped her breasts.  She was horrified and fled to the principal.  “What are you going to do about it?” she demanded angrily.  “You shouldn’t have been alone with him,” the principal snapped.  The conversation was over.  James and the reading lessons were over, but James continued on, oblivious to the fact that anything was wrong. 

In the eighth grade and in high school James proved to be outstanding in sports.  Grades were overlooked as long as James tried.  There were occasions when those in the stands were pleasantly surprised by his adroit moves and quickness.  There were also occasions when those same people were shocked by his ability to get confused.  When he got turned around he might run the wrong way in football or make the winning basket for the wrong team in basketball.  Yes, James was something of an enigma.

We didn’t hear much about Alicia after she graduated from high school.  The boys said she went to college but we didn’t know where.  And John?  He graduated from high school and drifted northward, working one job after another.  Later we heard he had been arrested in Seattle for armed robbery and would be locked away for awhile.  And James?  I had forgotten about James until one night at eleven o’clock I was awakened by the persistent ring of my phone.  I picked it up and was greeted by a familiar voice.  “Mr. Roberson, remember me?  This is James and I just called to thank you for all you did for me.  You didn’t give up and eventually you got me to reading.  I’m now a lumberjack in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  I volunteer at a local elementary school when I can.   I just wanted to thank you but I don’t want to keep you up.  Good-bye!”  And with that James was gone, but definitely not forgotten.  He was one of the more difficult students who had learning disabilities and social problems and somehow had managed to rise out of the murky depths. He had taken the next step and was reaching out to others and giving them a chance to succeed.  His persistence also woke me up.

 Sometimes I forgot that school was more than teaching subject matter.  It was about touching human lives.  I slept easier that night and for many nights to follow because I had made a difference in his life. James didn’t give me a chance to tell him, but he also had made a difference in how I perceived things.  I must have done something right, and to this day I still believe I can touch that invisible spirit, and bring it to a higher level.  Thanks, James, wherever you are, for giving me feedback.

 

By Dan Roberson  2/26/09