He’d dated Madonna, you know;
(This before the tendency would be to roll one’s eyes
And sigh Well, man, who didn’t?)
It’s said she’d call him and natter on for hours on end,
Long enough for him to hand a phone to a friend
And walk away to eat a sandwich or answer an e-mail
With time to spare before it was ever intimated
That it was permissible or necessary for him to get a word in edgewise.
It had gone nowhere, in the end;
She was seeking acolytes and satellites,
Moons for her peculiar orbit,
Offering no more than the cold attraction of gravity.
Take a moment, if you will, and look at,
No, study the picture from when he won a ring in ’97.
He is standing next to Jordan,
Who is all confetti-flecked smile,
Having once more conquered his Everest,
(Victory his be-all and end-all,
The journey simply something that transpired
In the months before he shook David Stern’s hand one more time)
But he is not beaming like His Airness:
It is not the face of a man who has found some grail,
No redemption in some Basketball Jesus.
He simply stares at something vague in the distance,
The look of a man who seems to hear a voice
Emanating from some Serling-esque game of hide-and-seek
Which says Not it, not it, not it.
How it all came down is a subject of some debate,
Discussions walking down well-trodden paths:
Some love triangle gone wrong,
A derivation of Cain and Abel,
(They found his brother, who’d fucked up and knew he was fucked,
In some Mexican desert where he hadn’t bothered to wander,
Knowing there was no revelation save to lay down and die)
Some fanciful notion of high-seas piracy,
And there were fingers pointed in accusation
While others found their sticky way
Into accounts left mysteriously dried up in no time flat,
But never the big hand of the big man.
Just a vessel, wandering aimlessly,
Shorn of a destination, shorn of a harbor.