After school I used to play a game
Where I had to make ten free throws
In a row or else I’d be shot on the spot
By some black hooded assassin.
The game mutated over the years.
Just a few weeks ago I was hoisting
A 25 footer knowing that if I missed
Not only myself but everyone I loved
Would be summarily dispatched.
I like to know that everything rides
On me. Not the usual three-two-one,
Beat the buzzer, win or go home
Sort of thing most kids do.
It had to be life or death.
Everything had to hinge
On the results of a single action.
I wish I could say I was consistently
A hero. That ice water surged in my veins,
That my heart rate never rose above seventy,
That I was always clutch, rising with an
Effortless flick of the wrist.
But the reality is I had already been
Dead to myself ten times over
Before the ball finally nestled through
The nylon cords of the net.