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. 

I am come to the age  
of pondering my lastness:  
buying what seems likely  
my final winter coat at Macy’s,  
or when a glossy magazine 
(so very blithely)  
asks me to renew. As for  

my heart, that pixilated  
tweener, how long  
I’ve been required to baby  
her complaints,  
(unLOVED unLOVED),  

alarmed and stubborn clock, 
refusing to listen even as  
the more intrepid tried.  

Now, she mostly mutters 
to herself, though  
occasionally there’s  
some clanging, a tinny sound,  
like the radiator in a Southie  
triple decker, fractious as  
a pair of cowboy boots 
in a laundromat’s dryer.  

It’s always been  
this joke old people know— 
in such a state  
of nearly doneness,  
the world grows sweeter,  
as if our later days  
are underscored with music  
from a concerto’s saddest  
oboe hidden in the trees. 

Just today,  
while standing in the kitchen,  
my son complained nonstop  
about his AP Psych class  
while wolfing warmed up  
bucatini from a crazed,  
pink china bowl.  

Shiny, kvetching creature.  
Even if I could tell him  
what he doesn’t want to know,  
I wouldn’t. But now,  

the pissy storm that’s spent  
all afternoon flapping like 
a dirty sheet  
has wandered off 
to spook some other  

There’s one barbed weed 
pushing up greenly through  
my scruffy loropetalum. 

And it falls on me, this little  
cold rain the day has left. 

Copyright © 2020 by Erin Belieu. Originally published with the Shelter in Poems initiative on poets.org.