Jumping Toyota

My God, they call those shorts, he grumbles ruefully to himself;

He muses as to how anyone wearing…well, he’s not sure

If they are overblown Bermudas or women’s culottes,

But back in the day they would have been laughed right off the courts.


It is not, however, his day any longer, as he is constantly reminded

By the baggy-wearing, body-pierced ballers of the current generation,

Fully adorned with swooshes from headband to toe, one of their sneakers

(And he is the only player who still uses that time-worn phrase)

Costing more than his entire outfit: shorts that merit the term,

Old shoes every bit as cracked and faded

As the berm of the back roads in this out-of-the way locale,

A faded and decades-laundered jersey

Bearing the name of a long-defunct auto dealership.

The kids call him “Jumping Toyota.”

Yo, Toyota—no dunkin’ on us tonight, OK? They hoot as they perform

The jump-and-bump as is the current courtside pre-game fashion.

He smiles grimly—I’d be pretty damn thrilled to touch the rim now.


His game is strictly cerebral, horizontal now

The muted, pastel joy of a solid, timely pick or well-thrown bounce pass

Is now his brand of blacktop epiphany,

And he eases up now and then on the offensive end

To provide succor to tendons and ligaments

Which, in spite of his admonitions to himself

That at your age you need to take it easy, dumbass

Will still register their protests a very few hours from now

On the third-shift line at Alcoa, leading to tortured grimaces

And the occasional audible grunt, which will lead to his co-workers to ask him

In a blend of concern and bemusement,

You still playin’ ball?


Once in a while, though, he will still drive hard towards the tin

And, eighteen again for the a snapshot of a moment,

He will stop on a dime and drop a jump shot

Which makes no noise whatsoever

Save for the whispery snap of the chain at the bottom of the net,

The sound every bit the same as it was

Before his knees and ankles went rogue.

Outside the chain-link fence, a young man plugged into his iPod

Leans mock-casually against a great old elm tree

Which bears a large painted orange circle marking its imminent destruction.


One thought on “Jumping Toyota

  1. I love everything about your short-story-in-a-poems. They always reveal much about the human condition – the things we can all relate to, like growing old, becoming a part of a previous generation, loathe to let go of the things which defined us. Though I have rarely seen basketball in the flesh (so to speak) your narrative was immediate and relevant to me.

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