Adrian Matejka

Synth Composite Basketball: No more Leather

This sorry mulatto of homemade leather
and rubber now named a “basketball”
hyperventilates from concrete to palm
like a little kid, bitched out on time out.
The bounce bounces according to pressure
and rotation, but this isn’t basketball.
Even with punks who jump high enough
to disrespect physics. Even with Jams
revisited as athletic shorts. Basketball
as I remember it had defensive stance,
two hands on the rock, jumper elbows
at angles like nose caricatures. Socks
pulled up and short shorts. Maybe
that’s why rust makes my hands hurt,
busts jumpers and lungs. Basketball theories
and stamina are left in the Gus Macker
we almost won. No ‘I’ in team phonetics
left on the outside courts at Ben Davis
High School, where dudes who talked
that When I balled in school got Statue
of Libertied by Terrence Stansbury
or shook by Vern Fleming’s behind
the back dribble. That’s basketball, as pure
as Dr. J saving Pittsburgh. Or Jim Chitwood
hitting the game winner even though he didn’t
make Cathedral’s varsity team outside
of Hollywood. He couldn’t make the same
team we beat like Rock’em Sock’em. That
was before I was rubbing my half-moon gut
under a half-moon backboard in the parking
lot of this elementary school. Back before
touching one toe, then the other needed
an outline. Basketball works like carbon dating
on spine and handles. Not love handles—hands
trying to work the dribble with something missing.
The same way a bad comic works the funny.

Adrian Matejka
Synth Composite Basketball: No more Leather first appeared in Crab Orchard Review.