“On July 8” by Elly Bookman

Elly Bookman


The man who waved the mock
trophy was the saddest. The boy
who wiped his tears and smeared green
and yellow paint on his collar
was the saddest. The model who
watched with her taxi driver boyfriend
and also the hotel doorman were both
the saddest. The teenager who picked
out a soda as the first goal went in,
waited in line during the second,
then paid the clerk as the net wafted
again in the third was the saddest.
The woman who played with her
grandson on the carpet in front of the
TV was the saddest, as was the grandson
himself, just full of great sadness.
Even the painter, listening to the radio
as he mixed the most lovely, exact
shade of violet on his palette, the saddest.
Saddest of all the countries, poor Brazil
was. No one else was waiting like
they were! No one else was at home,
watching round after round fire
and find its target all those many times,
collapsing joys as vital as lungs.

Poets Respond
July 13, 2014

[download audio]


Elly Bookman: “On the surface, the poem responds to the defeat of the Brazilian soccer team in the World Cup semifinal this week. As the game and its aftermath unfolded, I was struck by how easy it was for myself and those around me to feel empathy for Brazil, when so many more obvious tragedies were occurring elsewhere, such as the latest conflicts in Gaza. I hope the poem points out this disparity without invalidating the emotions surrounding any of the events that occurred on Tuesday.” (@ellybookman)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a new project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. To have your own poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST. 

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