“What Are You Doing Now?” by Elison Alcovendaz

Elison Alcovendaz


Where did you play college ball
he asks with the voice
of someone you once knew
back in high school
where you were the star
athlete, and he was someone else.
I didn’t, you should say,
but he’s standing there waiting
for your co-worker to bring up his car
in his tailored suit taller
than should be possible
he was such a nobody before,
from what you remember.
UCLA, you say, injury
you know, feigning
a grimace and a tender leg
while you cover the hole
in your sleeve with your hand.
He nods the way they always nod,
slow and sure,
lips pursed as though swallowing
the words he wanted to say
back then.
Then he asks the question
and for some reason
maybe the shine of his watch
or the shine of his shoes
you can’t remember the usual story
and instead hear the crowd
chanting his name
and the gold being laid
around his neck.
He didn’t mean to do this,
you understand.
You understand
there is always
something to lose,
and so you smile
and ask
what was your name again?

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018
Tribute to Athlete Poets


Elison Alcovendaz: “‘You’ll be the first Filipino in the NBA,’ people wrote in my yearbook. At eighteen, I was offered a spot on a pro basketball team that I stupidly turned down. Now, I’m almost 40 with nothing to show for my basketball skills other than a torn achilles and boxes filled with trophies I can’t, for some reason, get rid of. This is a poem about conversations I have with people who knew me from my basketball playing days.” (web)

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