restricted access For the Death of Lombardi
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On wings the heat was off and weight) andI could breathe At last. I was asleep. Well, for the Lord's sake, Observer Navigator Miracle Map-reader second halfofthe best Two-man crew in night-fighters, as we sit here In Central Park, where on earth in that war Have we been? I don)t know. I toldyou I was asleep. Well, Old Buddy, the ghosts had us For sure, then. Ghosts and angels. Nobody else. I guess, in Central Park, I can tell you, too, after all These years. So was I. For theDeath ofLombardi I never played for you. You'd have thrown Me offthe team on my best dayNo guts, maybe not enough speed, Yet running in my mind As Paul Hornung, I made it here With the others, sprinting down railroad tracks, Hurdling bushes and backyard Cyclone Fences, through city after city, to stand, at last, around you Exhausted, exalted, pale As though you'd said "Nice going": pale As a hospital wall. You are holding us Millions together: those who played for you, and those who entered the bodi, OfBart Starr, Donny Anderson, Ray Nitchke, Jerry Kramer Through the snowing tube on Sunday afternoon, Warm, playing painlessly In the snows ofGreen Bay Stadium, some ofus drunk On much-advertised beer some old some in other Hospitals-most, middle-aged And at home. Here you summon us, lying under The surgical snows. Coach, look up: we are here: We are held in this room Like cancer The Strength ofFields / 390 The Crab has you, and to him And to us you whisper Drive, Drive. Jerry Kramer's face floats near-real, paleWe others dream ourselves Around you, and far away in the mountains, driving hard Through the drifts, Marshall ofthe Vikings, plunging burning Twenty-dollar bills to stay alive, says, still Alive, "I wouldn't be here Ifit weren't for the lessons offootball." Vince, they've told us: When the surgeons got themselves Together and cut loose Two feet ofyour large intenstine, the Crab whirled up whirled out Ofthe lost gut and caught you again Higher up. Everyone's helpless But cancer. Around your bed the knocked-out teeth like hail-pebbles Rattle down miles ofadhesive tape from hands and ankles Writhe in the room like vines gallons ofsweat blaze in buckets In the corners the blue and yellow ofbruises Make one vast sunset around you. No one understands you. Coach, don't you know that some ofus were ruined For life? Everybody can't win. What ofalmost all Ofus, Vince? We lost. And our greatest loss was that we could not survive Football. Paul Hornung has withdrawn From me, and I am middle-aged and gray, like these others. What holds us here? It is that you are dying by the code you made us What we are by. Yes, Coach, it is true: love-hate is stronger Than either love or hate. Into the weekly, inescapable dance Ofspeed, deception, and pain You led us, and brought us here weeping, But as men. Or, you who created us as George Patton created armies, did you discover the worst In us: aggression meanness deception delight in giving Pain to others, for money? Did you make ofus, indeed, Figments over-specialized, brutal ghosts Who could have been real Men in a better sense? Have you driven us mad Over nothing? Does your death set us free? Too late. We stand here among Discarded TV commercials: Among beer-cans and razor-blades and hair-tonic bottles, For the Death ofLombardi / 39I Stinking with male deodorants: we stand here Among teeth and filthy miles Ofunwound tapes, novocaine needles, contracts, champagne Mixed with shower-water, unraveling elastic, bloody faceguards, And the Crab, in his new, high position Works soundlessly. In dying You give us no choice, Coach, Either. We've got to believe there's such a thing As winning. The Sunday spirit-screen Comes on the bruise-colors brighten deepen On the wall the last tooth spits itselffree Ofa line-backer's aging head knee-cartilage cracks, A boy wraps his face in a red jersey and crams it into A rusty locker to sob, and we're with you We're with you all the way You're going forever, Vince. False YOuth: Autumn Clothes oftheAge [for Susan Tuckerman Dickey] Three red foxes on my head, come down There last Christmas from Brooks Brothers As a joke, I wander down Harden Street In Columbia, South Carolina, fur...


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