(an homage to Updike’s “Ex-Basketball Player”
Flatbush and R meet at right angles,
and on the corner you will see the Oasis Diner,
where Alan, tall and balding, waits the front tables.
Patrons hardly pay attention to him
as they order pancakes and other breakfast specials.
But I, sitting at the counter, remember.
Once he played for our high school team.
He was good, in fact, the best.
I saw him score 53 points in one home game,
a school record still.
His hands were like wild birds.
He never went to college, just waits tables,
and in his quick, skilled placement of knives and forks,
I see the elegant motion of a perfectly thrown bounce pass
that finds a cutting teammate on the way to the basket.
Off work, he goes back to his one-room apartment,
flips his baseball cap onto his old MVP trophy,
and searches the channels looking for the Lakers game.