It’s a game played on a surface that causes multi-car pileups on highways and with skill that rivals any other professional sport. It’s hockey. Here are three poems about shot-blocking, a shootout, and a line brawl.
Sidney Crosby, the game on his stick
glides forward on the shootout attempt
legs churning to pick up the pace.
The goalie peers ahead
glove high, crouched forward.
Crosby flails his skates
nearly stopping at the net’s mouth.
He stickhandles, hands dancing
the puck left and right
like an unceasing Marine Corps cadence.
With a twitch, he flicks his wrists,
flinging a shot above the flailing goalie’s left shoulder.
His teammates war whoops of delight
are drenched by the goal horn.
Fans scream the soundtrack of a city in awe.
As for Sid,
he skates in a loop behind the net,
chewing on his mouth guard,
attempting to tuck away the half-grin that yanks
at the corners of his mouth.
The goalie has already made it down the runway
his mouth set in a firm line
choking back the curses that are begging to spatter out.
Before the gloves tumble to the ice
a few playground rules must be met—
a slash of the stick to a leg here
a cross-check to the back there,
and an angry snarl on top of it all.
Then it begins.
grasping fistfuls of the other’s jersey
launching frantic haymakers
until one cracks a jaw
or they both run out of breath.
Referees peel them away from each other
Shoving them into adjoining sin bins.
The combatants glance at their swollen knuckles
peeking up at the scoreboard
wondering if they got any good shots in.
Winding his stick, then cranking it forward
Alex Ovechkin whacks the puck toward an undressed corner of the net.
But home team center Matt Cullen scrambles into the line of fire
surging forward, pinning his legs together
to form a skeletal barricade.
The hurtling disc plunges into his waiting shins,
clattering his bones even through the plastic leg guards.
The puck deflects and skitters harmlessly into neutral ice
as Cullen buckles,
face scrunched, jaw clenched,
teeth gnashing his mouth guard.
He labors toward the bench
the bruise already coating his skin with its purple and yellow kiss.
Blocking shots in the NHL requires ruthless sacrifice,
like an infantryman marching toward the mouth of cannon fire.
Cullen groans and leans over at the waist toward the end of the bench
feeling as if shrapnel has dug into his skin.
Players like him are rewarded by a thick paycheck at week’s end
yet there are moments worthy of more than coin
like when his coach leans forward and offers a hurried bit of thanks.
Their tentative lead is guarded by gritted teeth
and battered flesh—
sacrifice that tows success by its clobbered waist.
Editor’s Note: Wonder why sentences are running over into other lines? It’s a poetic device called enjambment.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer, college student, and founder of Town Crier. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter at RunFree_KC, friend him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.