The sound of quiet. The sky 
indigo, steeping 
deeper from the top, like tea.
In the absence
of anything else, my own
breathing became obscene.
I heard the beating
of bats’ wings before 
the air troubled above 
my head, turned to look
and saw them gone.
On the surface of the black
lake, a swan and the moon
stayed perfectly 
still. I knew this was
a perfect moment.
Which would only hurt me
to remember and never
live again. My God. How lucky to have lived
a life I would die for.

Copyright © 2023 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

EyeAmBic performs “Love Game” at Winthrop University.

“Real quick all the people in love? Anybody in love? All the people that’s like forget like, I ain’t never want love, I ain’t gonna have love? Ok. Anybody have a boo, cuddle buddy, bae, whatever ya’ll call em these days. Snuggle bunny. So, so kinda like the second part to that poem, so like growing up as a man, well as people in general, but especially as a man I felt like love was kinda like a game right?

So When I was a kid I had this great fascination with sports.
From soccer to football to tennis
I played any game that involved a ball and a competition I could win.
Favorite sport of all time was basketball.
I wanted to be like MJ and play in the NBA.
So everyday after school I would practice layups, jumpers and triple threat stance
Until the street lights came on.
Hoping that one day I would make it to the league.

If you haven’t figured it out by now,
That career ain’t quite work out for me.
Now I work here and write poems.
But I was always a fan of any game I put my heart
Mind, body and soul completely into.
Except when it came to the game of love.

See when it came to the game of love
I was more like a rookie.
A benchwarmer trying to fight my way
into the starting lineup.
I was never on the first string.
Never picked up on the first run,
So I had to sit on the sidelines and watch
Other players score when I was struggling to get a shot.

I had to find out very quickly
That some women will always put you on their roster,
But would rather choose men with less skills
And more swag.
More J’s than A’s.
More willing to run and shoot than to throw you an assist.
Obsessed with tight ends who only wanted
To touchdown between your legs.

Mark your private parts on their scoresheet
Rank you on their ESPN top lays of the week
And then when they traded you for a new pick,
You always came running back to us.

See relationships are alot like sports.
Everyone wants to play but no one shows up to practice.
Put in the hard work on the hardwood,
Grind for glory on the gridiron.
Fight on the ice.
Go the distance for 12 rounds ‘cause this is more than just a game
From the first kiss to the first fight
You will find yourself in nonstop action.

Your first date is a scrimmage,
Where both sides are feeling each other out
Trying to determine if you are worthy of playing time.
Your argument is a heavyweight fight
Full of low blows and sucker punches
Jabs and uppercuts designed to KO your opponent.
The first time you show your physical love
Will probably be after that first argument.

And if it ya’ll make sure it feels like the olympics.
Make her long jump from long strokes.
Turn his baton in a pole vault.
Turn a javelin into a discus until it shotputs
And then when you are done remember to never
Make them jump over hurdles for your affection.
Treat them like your star player.
The only option in your triple threat offense.
Cause if you don’t, there will always
be players on the sidelines waiting to get drafted.
Fans in the stands
Looking for you to drop the ball so they can pick up your fumbles

So if you want them
Then show how them that you want them
Put down your guards and power forward
By making them the center of your attention.
Treat them like your teammate and not your sparring partner.
‘Cause relationships don’t come with playbooks.
No sets and schemes to beat the opposing team.
You have to play as you go, work out
Put in the overtime hoping that you can win the game
But remember ya’ll this is more than just a game,
It’s an experience.

See in the game of tennis, when a player has yet to score a point
In a match it is called “love”.
Cause they know it's not about keeping score.
It's about starting with nothing and adding more on top
To build something beautiful.
And ya’ll love is beautiful.
Love is the only competition worth living and dying for
So we run suicides
Cause sometimes you have to kill the person you are
In order to birth the lover you’re meant to become.

So, no I am not in the NBA.
I will never get drafted to play in the major leagues.
But every time I look at the scoreboards in her eyes I
know there is no way in the world
I could possibly ever lose.

Copyright © 2018 Angelo Geter. Used with permission of the poet. 

When people say they miss me,
I think how much I miss me too,
Me, the old me, the great me,
Lover of three women in one day,
Modest me, the best me, friend
To waiters and bartenders, hearty
Laugher and name rememberer,
Proud me, handsome and hirsute
In soccer shoes and shorts
On the ball fields behind MIT,
Strong me in a weightbelt at the gym,
Mutual sweat dripper in and out
Of the sauna, furtive observer
Of the coeducated and scantily clad,
Speedy me, cyclist of rivers,
Goose and peregrine falcon
Counter, all season venturer,
Chatterer-up of corner cops,
Groundskeepers, mothers with strollers,
Outwitter of panhandlers and bill
Collectors, avoider of levies, excises,
Me in a taxi in the rain,
Pressing my luck all the way home.

That's me at the dice table, baby,
Betting come, little Joe, and yo,
Blowing the coals, laying thunder,
My foot on top a fifty dollar chip
Some drunk spilled on the floor,
Dishonest me, evener of scores,
Eager accepter of the extra change,
Hotel towel pilferer, coffee spoon
Lifter, fervent retailer of others'
Humor, blackhearted gossiper,
Poisoner at the well, dweller
In unsavory detail, delighted sayer
Of the vulgar, off course belier
Of the true me, empiric builder
Newly haircutted, stickerer-up
For pals, jam unpriser, medic
To the self-inflicted, attorney
To the self-indicted, petty accountant
And keeper of the double books,
Great divider of the universe
And all its forms of existence
Into its relationship to me,
Fellow trembler to the future,
Thin air gawker, apprehender
Of the frameless door.

From Dig Safe by Stuart Dischell. Copyright © 2003 by Stuart Dischell. Reprinted by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.