after Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago”
Champion of the world,
All-galaxy MVP, a living statue,
Player moved the way ‘Trane fingered the sax, dribbling with Roach-rhythm;
Soaring, always balling,
Air, simply, The Man:
They tell me you could fly and I believe them, for I have seen your Air
Jordans pissing on the heads of would-be defenders.
And they tell me you aren’t human and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the
Man, near death, drop 40 on Utah in the Finals.
And they tell me you are intimidating and my reply is: On the faces of Knicks
and Lakers I have seen the marks of religious fear.
And having answered so I turn once more to the few who would doubt your ability, saying
you’ve lost a step, and I give them back a laugh and say to them:
Come and show me another with skin like wet leather, whose shadow could still drop fifty-five
at will, who still dies for the hoop and lives for the baseline J.
Fading from the corner amid others half his age, sweat gleaming, his
silhouette set against the rest of the league;
Flying to the rim like a hawk swoops to its food, the ball streaking through the air
like a comet,
Driving, dying for air, dunking,
Above the rim, tongue hanging from his mouth, mocking gravity,
floating away and not apologizing.