Football Sundays and Lorca

“But now I am no longer I,
nor is my house any longer my house”
-Federico Garcia Lorca

As I read this quote at the beginning of Mahmoud Darwish’s book, I thought about last night and my three fantasy football teams and my cousin sending me emails all day to join pick’em and salary cap leagues and the type of beer I’d drink to watch my Raiders lose on national television (watching so much Mad Men over the last two weeks had my lovely fiancée say something beautiful, “I really want a tumbler if scotch”).

It’s football season. My house (well 500 sq. ft. apartment) on Sunday is a football game. There is an air of unpredictability about the first week of NFL, a team like falcons or cardinals last year may be the texans or seahawks this year.
It’s a great time, and I’m sure my fiancée is thinking to herself, “Unfortunately, it was paradise,” which happens to be the title of this great Darwish book.


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Fantasy Advice from Poets- Anna Akhmatova

“I have lit my treasured candles,
one by one, to hallow this night.
With you, who do not come,
I wait the birth of the year.
Dear God!” – The first 5 lines portray the average fantasy owner, wondering what’s going to happen with the year.  The candles have been lit, the night is aglow, the setting is placed, but why so many f#(*%ng preseason games?

Anna Akhmatova’s poems are filled with a beauty and rawness that reminds me of the first weekend of football.  Anything can happen, there is anger and unexpectedness.  I loved her Poems of Akhmatova by Stanley Kunitz, half because of the great translations and half because on the left page is the Russian and the right page is English (so you read one page, but its like you’re reading 2!).  Most of her poems in this edition are short, composed, and precise, but her longer poem “Poem without a Hero” is more in-tune with the wait until the first week of football.  NFL works on the unexpectedness of it all, the parity works in this game (every year around 6 teams who made the playoffs last year won’t make it, giving way for….), and as of now there are no heroes.  Tom Brady was supposed to be a hero last year, but forces beyond him left the Pats their All-Pro.   All this “up-in-the-air” is frustrating for fantasy football players because even the sure things in the first quarter of the first game could be nothings.

This year my friends and I are going to do an auction draft.  Nothing good will come of this.  It’ll start at 2pm on a weekend day, and there will be bluffs called, people will end up with players they dont want, there will be drinking, and someone will end up paying too much for Matt Schaub or Lee Evans.  Well, oh well, but Akhmatova’s “Poem without a Hero” can alleviate any feelings that a bad draft is really that.

“As the future ripens in the past,
so the past rots in the future–
a terrible festival of dead leaves.” – So, it’d be nice if Chris Berman (even better, Terry Bradshaw) quoted this on Sunday Countdown of the first weekend. The past means little in the future, but when we see what’s happened, we look at what pundits prophesied and whichever ones were right will tell you.  But a lot of the time the predictions are on a hunch (it’ll be interesting to see if the football prospectus golden boy’s the chargers do that well).  What we glean in 6 weeks won’t be the same as what is “known” now. What Akhmatova seems to be saying is STFU about ranking the players in any given order.  If you don’t like ESPN’s ranking of the 5th pick, don’t pick that guy. Or as in my auction, target who you like and try to snatch some good steals, but don’t think too much about it.

“the night is fathomless, and it goes on and on–“- I’ve never done an auction draft but I figure this could take a while.  Luckily we’re using an online automated auction draft, so I dont have to stand with a gavel in hand (as league manager),  but I just see this turning into an drag-out test of testicular size.  A fun one, but still fathomless.

“This means that gravestones are fragile
and granite is softer than wax.
Absurd, absurd, absurd! From such absurdity
I shall soon turn gray.” -Ahkmatova can only be saying one thing: Dear God, don’t take Kurt Warner.

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Brett Favre through poetry

I love me some Bill Knott, who had a great blog awhile back (but now it’s defunct). UPDATE:not defunct, Bill Knott’s blog just moved to blogspot. What he seems to be describing, is Brett Favre’s tenuous grasp of team, player life expectancy, and death of commercial spots.  The poem is called, “The Answer,” and I think it could be considered the answer to any Packer’s fan’s muted cry of “Why?”

The Answer
By Bill Knott

Leaving the house,
the house will be
left completely,
from cellar to
attic my absence

Do I enter the world
the same,
my presence felt
from cloud
to ditch?

Only in departure whole.
is always partial.

Couldn’t you see that last stanza on a sign at Lambeau Field when the Vikings visit? “Only in departure whole./ Arrival/ is always partial.” Even the stanza order, where the first stanza describes how he will leave, the second stanza how he arrives a second time (and now for Favre, a third time), and then a realization that understanding your life and death (in athlete years) is the purest form of knowing yourself.

Favre apologist and Shakespeare quoters would rebut, “to thy own self be true,” and I’d say take the money and run.  Then again, maybe that is what Favre is doing.


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Fantasy Football Advice from Poets- William Butler Yeats

Now you’ve watched some preseason, you’ve read from the insiders or analysis of mock drafts of mocking mock drafts. You have a discernible plan, but most likely, you don’t have advise from poets on these matters. Not until today. What better way to start it off then with an oldie, but a good. The first stanza in William Butler Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium” is chocked full with hearty fantasy advice:

1)”That is no country for old men.”- first line, first great advice. Yeats seems to be saying here, Kurt Warner will get injured sometime this year.

2)”The young/In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,”- Those dying generations of fantasy football past, where you could pick a top 7 running back and envision consistent production. Yeats is hearkening back to bygone days, halcyon days, when back by committee seemed like a fad a few teams used.

3)”The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,/ Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long/ Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.”- Yeats is reminiscing on the Wildcat formation and doesn’t seem to buy one bit Ronnie Brown or any other dolphin/fish-based player as being legit. That was all so last year.

4)”Caught in that sensual music all neglect/ Monuments of unaging intellect.” -The sensual music are the experts picks and the monuments of unaging intellect are the employers of those experts (CBS, ESPN, etc.). There’s always a consensus top 10, and those are never the top 10. Yeats ends the first stanza by calling out all fantasy football team owners and telling them to think outside the box.

Or so I gleaned.

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Nats Baseball: Open Letter of Ire and Robert Creeley’s Baseball

Couple weeks ago I went to a Nats game because a friend said he had tickets.  We arrived, and they told my friend his free tickets aren’t valid on weekend games because apparently playing the dregs of AL Padres isn’t enough torture for Nats fans.  So we bought tickets and turn around: rain starts pouring.  While talking to the incompetent ticket salesman (or maybe highly competent since she coaxed us into buying tickets to see Padres-Nats on a Saturday night), clouds had moved in, and globs of rain poured.

The Ball Game
by Robert Creeley

The one damn time (7th inning)
standing up to get a hot dog someone spills
mustard all over me

Let’s wait it out, we said. Let’s go eat some half smokes and drink heavily, we thought. After countlessly checking doppler radar on my friend’s iphone, seeing another storm on its way into the capitol, and watching concession stand after concession stand close up shop, we left.

The conception is
the hit, whacko!
Likewise out of the park

of our own indifferent vulgarity, not
mind you, that one repents even the most visual

Early in life the line is straight
made straight
against the grain.

You must know what happened next.  Two guys stepped off the metro, walked to the bar, and what do they see on TV? Fucking 7-1 Nats. No the game wasn’t over, it’s the first fucking inning. I’d like to say I know it’s a record of some sorts, that the Nats haven’t scored 7 in the first since coming to Washington, but I don’t know that (but it sure feels like that’s a record).

Take the case of myself, and why not
since these particulars need
no further impetus,
take me at the age of 13
and for some reason there, no matter the particular

The only highlight of the night?  Seeing two other guys walk into the bar, holding a free Nats bag that they were giving out at the game, and us going up to them and explaining it all.  Pure schadenfreude? Of Course, but isn’t that what being a Nats fan is all about?

The one damn time (7th inning)
standing up to get a hot dog someone spills
mustard all over me

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Swing of things

I need a quick post to jumpstart back into the swing of things. Here’s an old poem by the genius Richard Wright:

King Joe (Joe Louis Blues)

Old Joe wrestled Ford engines, Lord, it was a shame;
Say Old Joe wrestled Ford engines, Lord, it was a shame;
and he turned engine himself and went to the fighting game…
Wonder what Joe Louis thinks when he’s fighting a white man
Bet he thinks what I’m thinking, cause he wears a deadpan.

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Curse of Redick

Like our shark, Mr. Redick, I’ve been afflicted by heightened expectations (or lack of Internet access and moving) and have not recovered my shooting touch (or ability to sit down long enough to pen an analysis) as I run around defending ray allen (carrying fucking boxes left and right). So, like the basketball offseason, I’ll take the weekend, wait with bated breath as Verizon guy comes tuesday, and waste your time with nonlinear poetic analysis.

For now, here’s something better than a shark, a fucking white tiger swimming (by the by, White Tiger, great novel):

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