February 26, 2015
You Like the Sports?
Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle
ROSS SAYS: Ryan and I had a brief conversation at Hidden Door festival, about how little we both knew about sport. Sport, as it happens, is our conversational weak-spot. We hate sport, in all it’s myriad forms. When sport comes up in conversation, we have absolutely nothing to say. We decided immediately that “sport” should be the subject of a collaborative poem. Sport was neutral territory- neither writer had the upper hand. Also, we could attempt to out-do each other with increasingly bombastic platitudes. That’s how it went, back and forth, with each of us piling on the enthusiasm for a thing we cared very little about! By the end I think we nearly convinced ourself.
You Like the Sports?
Hey Ryan, did you catch the sports
Are you a fan of the games that were on? Will be on?
The games series. What do you think will happen
in the today sports? What team clothes are you
sporting? What game is that? Who do you support?
Fair enough but who do you support again?
Ross, I follow the pride & the haemorrhoid. I follow
the thrust & pivot & the spectacular slam.
I wear the green and white and yellow paint.
I pant. I pant so hard when we get close.
The ones with azure sashes and lego eyes? The ones with the deer teleport motif?
The ones with majority control over four lucrative heavy oil projects?
The microscopic team discovered in certain vessels of beech and maple, causing blindness?
Etc we cd go on
All the mud, all the pretty horses, all the aimed elbows, all the fluids
pouring into the ring, soaking the fields, more spit than a thousand slide
trombones, look out the marching band, and look out the widow, look out
for the hurtle, the grief, the inexplicable urge to die on the fall.
Ryan, you will experience disappointment
when the team from my local sporting area
defeats the team from your local sporting area.
We will ride mountains all the way to the goal.
We are a basket, wrapped in a goal, hidden in a hole-in-one.
We have already painted a watercolour
of us, holding aloft the Victory Cup, and it is
We are the Kim Jong Il of sports, Ryan. Your pitch
is our green screen
Ross, your team is a monied polyp on the anus of sport.
Our boys play for the love – not the gold, nor the cup.
Our boys run for justice, truth, the fair handed shake
and if there is a god and if he sits with Jesus at his side
they’re both cheering for us on Monday night, rain or shine.
Yes, they have been playing excellently
this season. They’ve been clinking zepplins in the top end.
They’ve been malleting horses match-after-match.
They’ve done a very very good job indeed.
But compare their record to the attic bedroom
where I’ve been crying for the last four years
and you’ll see there’s little hope- little hope
of happiness for this clan of tanned fictitious characters.
No sex at crunch time, not this Sunday.
No, they’ve been chumps and bums, crutches
and chokers all ankle biters pockets full of posies.
Take the skirt off Carl and stick the landing!
They were headless chickens, it was a bloodbath,
it was fucking Roman, it was Wednesday all over again
it was the safest bet and so, so close
A bomb went off in Sport, Ryan. Your team just happened to be
shopping for perfume in the wrong part of the mega-mall.
But let’s not mistake it for luck, noble brother. There’s no such thing as luck.
I’d rather gamble my kids inheritance on a wheelbarrow of severed limbs
than admit the possibility of chance. Blood rains from the fingers of the Gods, Ryan.
We goal by divine right of the supreme architect of sport.
But have you seen the ratings, Ross? Ever since
that sportscaster bit her, ever since the ear
incident, ever since the racist old mole,
ever since the shaving, the fixing, the gifting,
the knee smash and grab the gold, ever since
the dogs went roaring at each other’s throats,
ever since the hormones, the transfusion, the alleged fire
the collusion, the paper bags for the ring
check your papers & push your chits
my boys are doing fine.
Ryan, your sports team keeps swapping out older players
and replacing them with younger players! Did you think I wouldn’t… notice?
That somehow the football players of Nottingham Forest could still be 25 years old,
despite the fact that the team was founded in 1865?
Clearly substitutions have been made! You charlatans!
You think that sports teams can’t die? All teams die in the end!
And we will take you with us, Ryan! Screaming into the abyss,
as insects feast upon the calve muscles of a thousand hoofed open-goals!
Let the fog of death rise from the stands!
Historians will tell you that the valiant are remembered, even loved. Hearts
must be in the game. Bodies must be flung, cities razed, wave
after wave of attack. And if you can stand, arms raised in a V
and feel the warmth of your country’s flag. You will be immortal.
Sounds like loser talk to me Ryan. A profound loss. A billion year losing streak.
Townships burning in the last light of a sick century. Death threats sung like hymns.
Thank God we are sportsmen, Ryan. Thank god we are blessed with the handshake
that says “good game”. We can pretend that none of this is real.
Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. Sutherland currently works as a writer and tutor in Cambridgeshire. His last collection, Emergency Window, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2012. Ross also makes work for the stage, including Comedian Dies In The Middle Of Joke (2012) and Standby For Tape Back-Up (2014). Ross is also one of the hosts of Homework, a literary scratch night in East London.
Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle read ‘You Like the Sports?’
commissioned by SJ Fowler for the Auld Enemies Project, 2014
Inspired by SJ Fowler‘s ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets to create new work, I’ve stolen the notion and begun to collaborate with friends and writers of interest. You can read about the project and see 2013’s poems here & 2014 poems here.