• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 06
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It’s the Emblem for Me and for You

Every straggling half-decade or so
I am dragged back reluctantly
to the old home ground.
We inherited each other, the team and I,
passed down through generations.
The best thing about living on the other side of the moon
is escaping the hooks of traditional barracking.

God help me, the cringe of the quarter-time entertainments
as a dizzied pair wobble kicks at the goals.
The sacramental pies made as they ever were,
and the holy cup fizzes flat with yellowing lager.
We take our plastic seats solemnly in the shady slice,
and I crane to watch them dash and kick,
no longer knowing a single name down below.

But even if the details have changed, the ceremony feels the same.
Red-tinged faces staring hopedrunk at a blue sky,
desperate for their lot to fly unerring to the mark.
You'd think we'd know better by now.
There's the proper heart-pain as they slip behind the score
until no one believes they can make it up anymore
and we talk about leaving, only part-joking, before the next siren.

A man behind us shouts down, seamlessly switching to work-phone abuse.
There's gnashing of teeth, mournful howls of outrage and despair,
and I realise that I'm part of the cacophony too.
Oh, arrogant chump! — to believe that I was too far away
to sink back into this raw ritual of lost victories.
Of course, as we leave, a blind optimist raises his head
and shouts out a profession of faith in the season next year.