What if happiness hung on a game-winning free throw?

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Even Malcolm Brogdon missed a big free throw late in the last game! Then there’s Giannis and Eric Bledsoe. A Raptor or two have FT issues. So this poem spoke to me because it puts sports in a bigger perspective while acknowledging its role in elusive human happiness.

“Happiness” By Lisa Zeidner

What it is
is the absence of pain. Nothing more.
Over a decade of life in the bull’s-eye
of the troubled cities in the Northeastern corridor
and I’ve never been raped,
never stabbed, burglarized, or even mugged
though I hate to say or even think
I never get colds (line italicized)
or hear a sportscaster brag
about a basketball player’s percentage from the line

Before the foul shot that would win the game:
why wave a red flag in the bulls face
if the bull is God
in happy pastures, chewing the grass?

Infinite disasters and fender bender’s lurk
around each corner
like the black holes that claim stray socks
at the laundromat.
Best to notice happiness peripherally,

The way walking in his city you take in a pretty weed
growing from a sidewalk crack
or a woman with slim ankles
passing briskly – to meet someone for a drink
perhaps, a man she has not seen,
back whole from a treasure hunt or war.

You, too, have someone waiting at home
and for a goosebumped second you know
that you are loved. That nothing,
at least today, has gone wrong.
— From Vital Signs: Contemporary American Poetry from the University Presses. An anthology edited by Ronald Wallace, UW Press 1989

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