T. Dallas Saylor
NBA LIVE ’95 ODE
In those days when Dad came home
on his lunch break, on afternoons
when it was too cold to swim, we’d play
Super Nintendo. Dad knew a cheat code
for NBA Live ’95 that would let us
play as Bill Clinton & Al Gore. I didn’t know
anything about Clinton or Gore except
they’d just been in office & messed that up,
& since we were good Republicans
it felt a little like playing as Bowser,
like getting to be the dragon for once,
especially when I’d pull out the charge
shot, how you could hold down the button
& put a comet tail on a three-pointer.
Being the bad guys meant it was okay
to play dirty, to go for the steal, to get
all up in the other guy’s pixelated face
& talk trash at the cathode-ray screen:
yeah, get that junk outta my gym!
Those days it seemed like I’d always be
teammates with Dad, just like when
Clinton & Gore ruled the world in mesh
tank tops, & I never stopped to ask,
then what? One went off & slept
with the wrong woman; the other
invented the internet, & neither one
tried marijuana or making the glory
days last. Then what, Dad?
Could you make it from Birmingham
to Houston & back on a two-hour lunch?
Would NBA 2K22 on PS5 still team us up
bad & proud, or would it look too real
to cheat-code Donald Trump to the court
& trash-talk Lebron James or James Harden?
Say the world isn’t what it was; say
it’s worse now, or say it’s better;
say in this world you have to imagine
the comet tail. There used to be a film
on the surface. Now we make
our own film & call it love.
FOREST HAVEN, STORM-BREAK
The god flood comes, beloved—hold my eyes
on your eyes, within your eyes—hold
my limbs as they wooden, build up
a soft mist, rippling pools, thick vines
to spool my low cries as my lungs evolve
beneath your palms, as you seal me
against this gravity turning our earth
skyward. Weaver of dewy branches, cool
shelter, kindle within the calm of this new
world wreckage a hidden luster, a song played
on a little leaf to light our future with all
the ache of our scattered fireflies. I adore you
with the tips of my fingers—everything,
even my breath, flows in your yin viridian.