(B)ode by Lucian Mattison

Bo knows,
but I don’t really
because right now
he fashions
in a basement, licks
the fletching
as he pulls arrows back
beneath his right eye,
bringing elk
to buckled knees.
He’s cemented
bone, prosthesis
pieced cartilage,
a snapped artery
of a former self
in white sox.

Bo knows
how he never lit up
Wayne Gretzky
on the ice,
not because
of stereotypes—
it was just
a bit too cold
for his liking.
He laced boots
for primetime,
walked on
diamond and gridiron,
never warming up
because he was
always warm.

Bo knows
how perfect
a shoe,
more perfect
the man wearing it.
No, I don’t
know Diddley,
the tune
of one season
running into another.
O, power
hitter, impossible
size and speed
for running back
and forth across
the Tecmo
Super Bowl screen.
Bo Jackson.

Bo knows,
but nobody ever will
truly see the eternal
centerfold, strength
so stubborn
it outruns itself,
pelvic joint
unable to cope
with its own
brute force. He was
the highlight reel
for every month,
VHS tape
that ceased to play.
He was as real
to me as the 8 bit
legend, two minutes
of game on the clock,
left on pause
with the TV off,
and somebody
pulled out the plug.

Lucian Mattison is the author of Peregrine Nation (The Broadkill River Press, 2014) which won the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Boiler, Everyday Genius, Hobart, Muzzle Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, and Spork, among other journals, and has received Pushcart Prize nominations. He edits poetry for Green Briar Review and Barely South Review. To read more visit Lucianmattison.com.