Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game

By Denis Johnson b. 1949 Denis Johnson
sometimes you know   
things: once at a   
birthday party a little

girl looked at her new party
gloves and said she
liked me, making suddenly the light much   
brighter so that the very small

hairs shone above her lip. i felt
stuffed, like a swimming pool, with   
words, like i knew something that was in   
a great tangled knot. and when we sat

down i saw there were
tiny glistenings on her
legs, too. i knew
something for sure then. but it

was too big, or like the outside too   
everywhere, or maybe
hiding inside, behind
the bicycles where i later

kissed her, not using my tongue. it was   
too giant and thin to squirm
into, and be so well inside of, or
too well hidden to punch, and feel. a few

days later on the asphalt playground i   
tackled her. she skinned her
elbow, and i even
punched her and felt her, felt

how soft the hairs were. i thought
that i would make a fine football-playing   
poet, but now i know
it is better to be an old, breathing

man wrapped in a great coat in the stands, who   
remains standing after each play, who knows   
something, who rotates in his place
rasping over and over the thing

he knows: “whydidnhe pass? the other   
end was wide open! the end
was wide open! the end was wide open . . .

Denis Johnson, “Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game” from The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New. Copyright © 1995 by Denis Johnson. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1995)

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Poet Denis Johnson b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Youth, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Denis  Johnson

Biography

Denis Johnson was born in Munich, Germany where his father worked for the State Department. Johnson grew up in the Philippines, Japan, and Washington D.C. and earned an MFA from the University of Iowa. An award-winning novelist, short story writer, and playwright, Johnson published his first collection of poems, The Man Among the Seals (1969), at the age of twenty. Subsequent collections include Inner Weather (1976), The . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Youth, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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