Sports Page

Lamar University Literary Press has announced the May 1 release of Ken Waldman's newest full-length poetry
collection, Sports Page. Ken Waldman will have review copies in his hands for AWP in San Antonio, March 4-7, 2020.

New Mexico State University Associate Professor, Rus Bradburd, a former basketball coach at both New Mexico  
State University and University Texas at El Paso, and author of four sports literature books, has this to say:

"It's an old saying that sports doesn't build character, it reveals character. Ken Waldman's new Sports Page poems
don't reveal character, they reveal America in all its complexities. This is a brilliant book, simple on the surface, but
this talented poet digs deep below the artificial surface to unearth what it means to be alive today."

Marjorie Maddox, Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University adds this:

"Poet Ken Waldman has the eye and the angle. His newest collection, Sports Page, is all live action: basketball, bowling,
baseball, bullfighting. From football to fly fishing, golf to tennis, he keeps our sight on whatever is soaring, twirling, or
sinking. Armchair athletes or accomplished iron men (and women), dive into these words and swim."

Below is the announcement, which includes the back cover endorsement by Mark Baumgartner, Associate Professor
at East Tennessee State University, Director of the Creative Writing minor there, and Editor-in-Chief of Aethlon: The
Journal of Sport Literature
. Scroll down further for five poems from the collection.

 

Five Poems from Sports Page

 

Wheelchair Tennis


They had to have been family: a man
feeding backhands to a woman in the chair
a few feet in front of the baseline,

making her strain shoulders and arms
for each ball, which she'd strike
first cross-court, then down-the-line

with a steady grim accuracy born
from a lifetime of smacking two-handers
relentlessly, competitively,

both adults now turning to the girls
dressed in white, mama's little legs,
poised by the net to collect the misses.


                                     originally published in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature


 

February Full Moon, Nome


After the city razed the old
hulking two-story wooden junker
kitty-corner to me, and sprayed
the graded lot, I sat watching
little kids slip like seal pups
as they slid flailing across
shiny wind-scoured ice, taking
the subzero cold to the bone

Past midnight a last teenager
gone, I laced long-unused skates,
wobbled to the makeshift rink.
Over and over I circled alone,
my stiff and imperfect ovals
like that insistent winter moon's
bright sixteen-hour orbit,
a frozen, warped halo.


                                    originally published in Sidewalks

 


Twin Killing


It looks so easy, a quick 6-4-3
double-play, two-hopper to short, underhand
feed to the pivoting second-baseman
who fires to first. It looks so easy,
though it's not. To field the ball cleanly
and efficiently is an art. Understand
the teamwork in getting a sliding lead man--
spikes flying--and sidestepping injury
to complete the relay. The umpire's hand
signals out as the first baseman's long stretch
beats the runner's last big stride to the bag.
The 6-4-3 double-play. A casual fan
never will comprehend the beauty. Such
is the game's stark, sudden, graceful zig-zag.


                                   originally published in Cobalt Review

 

Tennis Without a Net


Courts finally empty.everyone gone,
we removed a net, Joey and I,
and began cracking groundstrokes like clockwork--
this rallying the sum accumulation
of the millions of balls we'd hit growing up,
balls hit indoors and outdoors, balls hit
on clay, wood, cement, grass, balls hit
moving in, sliding, backpedaling, wrong-footed,
balls hit as dinks, chips, half-volleys,
lobs, balls hit wide, long, on the rise,
over the fence, against a wall, mishit balls
yellow balls, white balls, orange balls,
spotted balls, dead balls, balls hit right-handed,
left-handed, two-handed, between the legs,
over the shoulder, falling down, diving,
on one knee, on two knees, cramping, bloated,
drunk, exhausted, balls hit in Kalamazoo,
Miami, Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta,
balls hit with John McEnroe, with old men,
with girls, in spite, balls hit warming up
for 0 and 0 wins and third-set tiebreaker chokes,
balls hit because we loved to, Joey and I,
especially then, twilight, the summer evening
dawdling toward dusk, a couple of lanky
tennis-tanned twenty-year-olds who'd taught
lessons all day, thought to undo a net.
Who knew when the backhands began backhand
after cross-court backhand, soft floating
underspin backhands, each unerring shot arcing
higher above the imaginary net, deep corner
to deep corner, sky darkening, our shoulders
turned, wrists laid back, long smooth
follow-throughs extending, neither moving
nor seeing, hitting purely by ear, Joey and I,
even after that last perfect ball
disappeared in the unlit July night.


                                    originally published in Tar River Poetry

 



Colin Kaepernick's Dream


Martin Luther King Day
parade, I'm in front

with Tommie Smith,
John Carlos, Muhammad Ali,

Arthur Ashe, Curt Flood,
Kareem Abdul Jabbar,

Jackie Robinson, LeBron James,
Satchel Paige, Connie Hawkins,

Marlin Briscoe, Joe Gilliam,
Doug Williams, Warren Moon.

Behind us, hundreds
of brothers and sisters

of all sizes, shapes,
and shades. Thousands;

no millions. We fill
every road into and out of

Washington D.C..
We kneel and pray.