“Upon Further Review” by Rob Stephens

Rob Stephens


Upon further review, the camera clearly shows
two bodies colliding like rams. Or was one man
a saint, drumming down the conflict? Can we all agree

that there should have been no contact?
Where were the referees? Where were the chaperones?
Why didn’t somebody throw a flag? The camera

clearly shows that one man was a smirking boy, the smirking
boy smirking that he got away with no penalty,
with this collision of two bodies, with the knowledge

that he was caught on camera, that from a particular
angle he was leading with his helmet. Don’t ignore
your own eyes—when you wear that hat,

it’s clear whose team you’re on. Come on—there’s no way
you can miss the blatant targeting from this angle.
If you rewind, you hear the crowd tossing those slurs,

those careless tomahawks. What the camera
doesn’t show is the lawsuit coming. Upon further review,
we’ve decided to sue. Everyone feels ripped

off. Upon further review, it’s clear the ball was uncatchable.
The camera shows a shit ton of testosterone
blinding everyone, but when you see the smirk on smirking

boy’s face, you’ll understand why so many penalties
were missed. You’d understand why nobody walked away
feeling like a saint, why everybody felt rammed.

Why, everybody? Upon further review, there was never
a ruling on the field, and what the camera
really shows is that although we all claimed we were praying

while the teams stared each other down, we were actually
losing our religion. Or were we honoring it,
which is to say, holding fast to whatever ball we were about to drop?

from Poets Respond
January 27, 2019


Rob Stephens: “I am interested in the way that the public’s response to two events this past week—the Rams vs. Saints controversial call and the incident involving the Nathan Phillips and the Covington High School—both seemed to be shaped by camera angles and mob response. The more that the camera zoomed out from the initial incident, the more that the issues became more complicated than they were originally presented, and the more that everybody seemed like they were left feeling robbed in some way.” (web)

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