“Modern Day Gladiator” by Alex Hoffman-Ellis

Alex Hoffman-Ellis


he lies awake
open-eyed nightmaring
white knuckle gripping vertical green bars
in the name of chasing a dream
that never bloomed.

drops of blood trickle from his urethra
dyeing portions of his urine cherry red.
left hand bracing the wall
supporting herniated discs
and confidence eroding depression.

he slowly shuffles over
his parents’ creaky floorboards
back to a bed
in a room he doesn’t own.
in a home no longer his.

how does one bring the crowd to their feet
when struggling to stand
upon their own two?

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018
Tribute to Athlete Poets


Alex Hoffman-Ellis: “I have been playing professional football both in the U.S. (St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers) and in Canada (B.C. Lions, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos) since 2012. I started playing football at the age of seventeen, earned a full scholarship at nineteen to Washington State University, where I started for three years. While playing this physically and mentally unforgiving game, I fight the culture associated with football daily. Football culture has always been of a ‘macho’ nature—suppress your sensitivities, endure as much physical pain as you can while staying on the field at any and all costs, eat, sleep and shit meatheadedness, pump iron and party in your spare time, sleep with as many women as possible (this is not limited to single players, either), etc. This is a sport where teams have chaplains, there’s regular, unabashed advertising for armed forces recruitment, and sexual assault offenders deserve second chances over those who protest what the national anthem represents (or doesn’t) to them. It’s not the forum you’d expect to find a free-spirited Jewish dude raised by liberal parents from L.A. But nonetheless, here I am, in all my sensitive, kind, laid back, highly opinionated, jewelry making, globetrotting, spearfishing, nature photographing, book reading, poetry writing, unapologetic glory.” (web)

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