Michael Marberry

The Love Song of Bill Laimbeer

– Bill Laimbeer (1979-1993)

How else would you describe my heroic
villainy? My game was made from pain,
graceless as the kid killing bugs each day
in endless auto-da-fé. There’s no poetry

to hardwood (just hardwork), no rainbow
holtom semaphore to save you courtside:
my stroke a dagger. “Bad Boy” in a fight,
I foul and flop the low post till you know

no way to the paint that will not hurt you.
But is there love (or something like love)
in a forearm shiver, a shove, an undercut?
What body can explain itself and fluently?

This engine of skin and sweat still guards
to touch; this heart still pistons in the dark.

Michael Marberry’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, Sycamore Review, Crab Orchard Review, West Branch, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, and elsewhere. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD at Western Michigan University. This particular poem is from a formal mini-sequence about various 1980s-1990s era NBA basketball centers from his childhood.