Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels’ fourteenth book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013 and was selected as a Michigan Notable Book, winner of the Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award, and received the Gold Medal in Poetry in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels is the Thomas Stockham University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.







Under one streetlight on concrete


gone quiet on night’s a.m. dial


the ball echoes when it drops,


and wobbles, oh, we sweat clean,


clomping in drunken factory boots


steel-toed and glorious thump-


ing as we trudge past parked cars—


buttonhook, criss-cross, flare,


down-and-in, down-and-out,


four of us—passer/receiver


rusher/defender oh Mississippis


one through five, two-hand shove


we don’t touch each other


out of breath, hands on knees,


for we are in the factory’s kind of shape—


but, but—hut, hut, hike—in the air tonight


the burn-off of summer into fall


oh yeah baby—one of us used to be


a high school star, and watching him tonight


run by me still I feel the sad tinny weight


of the announcer calling his name


and nobody thinks I’m mocking him


when I cup my hands: Touchdown


by Herzog! we gather in the street’s


pock-marked end zone in the almost-


dark at the edge of the light’s soft


circle of breath and do a touchdown dance


that frankly was not allowed in school


and it goes on a little long because nobody’s


keeping score or keeping time through this brief


broken window of our lives and no,


the neighbors aren’t shouting shut up,


cool enough tonight for closed windows


maybe or maybe it’s just a home game


and I know it might be easy or expected


to tell Herzog to go long when we switch


teammates, but that’s what I do—


I love to see the man run


and if I say it’s as simple as that


I’m only lying a little bit. Go long!


I shout for everyone to hear, echo


rising up like steam to disappear


into the dark, but I do know better


than to say and keep on going, brother—


our plays more complicated


than that.



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© Copyright, 2014, Jim Daniels.
All Rights Reserved.