Lox & Pigskin – Benji Katz

My papa told me schvartzes
        give themselves a bad name

when they dance in the end zone,
          I said When´s the last time

you saw a Jewish man make it there?
          If he had maybe he´d dance the horah

& grumbling fans who hope the helmet
          hides all personality would insist

he quite connivingly bargained his way in.
          & this may not have been less than true,

he may have had to negotiate his way
          onto the field with cunning wit

& an immigrant´s work ethic to trick
         the narrow minds of coaches,

scouts, & analysts who assess
         the silhouettes of greatness on the grid-

iron as if their shoulder pads can bear
        the weight of prejudice & never buckle.

But how about the triumph
          in emerging from the trenches?

Cleated strides—a catalyst for Astroturf
        explosions—sending tire nubbin shrapnel

through the air like fourth & July
          fireworks, not even vaguely

reminiscent of broken glass.
          Every single yard we gain away

from our mutually destructive huddles
          is cause for excessive celebration.

Benji Katz is a poet and musician from Cincinnati, OH. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. His work has previously appeared in Prairie Margins, Polaris, Military Experience & the Arts, and Watershed Review.