I got a few debts to pay

June 25, 2017
By vickyc35 BRONZE, Livingston, New Jersey
vickyc35 BRONZE, Livingston, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

While men shot men
I shot hoops.
They bruised the ladies;
I beat up the backboard.
When life turned grey and the money dried out
Pa and Ma dribbled beer in their hands;

Baby Johnny in between.

The neighborhood boys calloused the streets.
On the sidelines I watched them play this game called life;
Basketball was a better game for me.
In the bleachers they watched me, tossing smoke in the air like layups.
On Sundays, I worshipped the hoop on McAnderson road.

With every rebound bounced back chance.
Crossover, fake ‘em out;
Jump, shoot, score!

My brother Johnny went to school; there were those he called friends.

Then one day, I shot hoops at the pros.
in the land of hoops.
The land of hope,
where seas of heads danced vibrantly on the bleachers,
where I learned to play life on the basketball court.

Johnny likes to play in the streets at night

How I found my way beside the hoop on McAnderson road--
The land of hope has taught me too;
The same men shooting fouls with crumbling cigars.
That same hoop of hope: frayed netting; bruised backboard.
My brother Johnny learned to dribble a beer in his hand.

I got a few debts to pay

The author's comments:

This piece is an ekphrastic poem based off of the artwork I Got a Few Debts to Pay  by David Rathman.  The lithograph contains a basketball hoop and the words I got a few debts to pay at the top. The poem is my interpretation of the artwork, and the story I imagined that could be told from the piece.   I hope after reading the poem and looking at David Rathman's piece, people will be able to appreciate daily hobbies we have explored as kids. Whether our childhood consisted of sports, camp, or traveling, our daily activities have impacted each of us significantly in some way, like how the simple sport of basketball saved the life of the speaker in the poem. 

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!