Travel Soccer

I wish I'd done better at soccer
as a fuck-off to my hard-ass coaches
who were then new adults
with apartments and hatchbacks.

Each singer I'd hear
on the alternative rock radio station
in Doug's mom's minivan
on the way to practice
took form in my ears as attractively
adult soccer coaches
with sexy problems and a petrifying

I had some slick moves and all the vision
but as in most things
they just didn't really get me—

I now dream of travel soccer perhaps every other night:
mid-game on an oversized field
like mowed vast meadows
at times rife
with pack animals
can collectors
vivd fanfare
and eruptive
fire hydrants
under a stormy milling sky
of curdled chocolate milk

where I always score important goals
until waking
lest be murdered
and buried in the shucked husks
of orange slice quarters.

No one really knew what they were doing
or where they were
in the world
at that age
in the era
of school-night practices.

In the winter we'd move
to enormous vacuumized
white domes

and for one season
to some small Christian college in the area
with a hardwood gymnasium
adjacent to a science laboratory by a
Dr. Pepper machine in the hall—

entering scared in wintry night
passing the dark after-hours lab
with tanks and cages aglow
where I'd linger for long
reluctant moments
before lacing up for
failure and inferiority.

One night I wore a southwestern-style vest
on top of my Umbro t-shirt
to exhibit some individualistic style
or maybe to foreshadow my lead role in
St. Hugo's eighth-grade production of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Received by playful meanness
it was the means by which I was fastened to a hook on the wall
by suggestion of the virile-bodied coach
(the somehow sadly fit body which in scrimmage he would place upon all others with
unchecked and self-satisfied force—

I recall triangularly-toned calf muscles stirring ambiguous
pity and inadequacy in their furious kicking
an awkward intimacy with out-of-place
adult sweat
after-game arcade boasting
unnecessary bravado
and lake party roughhoused submersion).

Ostensibly fraternal gags
but such men
in the company of children
were real horrors
and they now cruise the school districts of my
dreams circuitously
in proud Asian-manufactured cherry red compacts
circa 1997

where I preserve them
no doubt inside more malice
than the actuality of their current middle-aged
whiskery stubble.

When I was cut most cruelly
a part of me went back and hid in the blacked-out
nothingness of the mystery lab
with the mice and the fishes.

The door was open
with cold Dr. Pepper
and immense phobia
it was to be locked from the inside

So sometimes
it's the places and ages we've only known in minimal passing
where we can linger
with any sustained meaning or time.