Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar
and asked him what went wrong. It’s the shirt,
he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back
like a shroud, or a poisoned jerkin from Grimm
seeping its curse onto my skin, the worst tattoo.
I shower and shave before I shrug on the shirt,
smell like a dream; but the shirt sours my scent
with the sweat and stink of fear. It’s got my number.
I poured him another shot. Speak on, my son. He did.
I’ve wanted to sport the shirt since I was a kid,
but now when I do it makes me sick, weak, paranoid.
All night above the team hotel, the moon is the ball
in a penalty kick. Tens of thousands of fierce stars
are booing me. A screech owl is the referee.
The wind’s a crowd, forty years long, bawling a filthy song
about my Wag. It’s the bloody shirt! He started to blub
like a big girl’s blouse and I felt a fleeting pity.
Don’t cry, I said, at the end of the day you’ll be back
on 100K a week and playing for City.
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