Helping a Football Player Write a Poem by Tim Suermondt

He insists on confessing “I’ve never gotten poems”

and he’s both surprised and pleased

when I tell him “Sometimes neither have I.”

I assure him no matter what poem we come up with

it will be better than anything I could do on the gridiron—

my Gale Sayers moves alive only in memory.

I suggest he be aggressive with the first line

and he writes ‘I am the Quarterback.’ Good, and in short

order we have a serviceable twenty line poem—

one able to withstand the image I failed to resist,

the guard and tackle opening a hole for the fullback

“You could drive a mack truck through.”

We print the poem out and he folds it in half, lifts

his arms skyward, turning and saying “Touchdown!”

Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections: Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007 ) and Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010). He has published poems in PoetryThe Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. After many years in Queens and Brooklyn, he has moved to Cambridge with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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