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Nationwide Hankering on a Saturday in Fall


No ticket takers wait at the gates.


The marching bands have stayed away,

even the drum majors too diverted

to finish changing into their uniforms.


The cheerleaders cavort somewhere else.


Somehow the special-team players

maintain the discipline to assume

their positions on the field, their coaches

and teammates irked with themselves

for showing up, the football upright

on the tee, the referee kissing his whistle

as if it were his wife’s responsive tongue.


All the tiered seats remain vacant,

every loyal fan at home in bed

or out of sight in a tent uphill

from the hiking trail or down

in the lower stacks of the library

or in a discount-store dressing room

or—denial turning to urgency—

on one of the cleared backseats

in the all-but-empty stadium lot…


The kick-off returner does his duty

but fantasizes about what he’s missing

when he catches the ball.  He’s hugged

to the ground just shy of the fifteen

by an opponent who’s slow to get off.


Unlucky sportscasters and their shrinking crews

watch the game—their only viewers a few

of the prepubescents of the countless parents

who found no sitters available but TV.


Offensive holding occurs on every play

and, with the miserable officials never throwing a flag,

every possession’s sustained into a scoring drive.




William Aarnes