Vol. 1, No. 4: Shammgod Unbound photo

Three Baller PoemsMitchell Nobis

In the Bubble

the crowd is an mp3

& a wall of computer monitors.

The first pass zips to the right corner

& the point guard cuts

to the hoop,

gets the ball back,

passes it out

to the left wing

as some crowd recorded


cheers like a white noise machine,

a soothing, humming roar

outside a baby’s room 

& the small forward catches the ball

with one hand and kicks it to his left,

a marvelous play too fast to

have even been conscious.

The two-guard in the corner

catches it and elevates

but the defense

lunges with a hand

looming like a stormfront,

and off-balance & askew, the 

two-guard pushes an inelegant

cross-court pass like a shot put

and the signal goes glitchy

& everything freezes — / — fr

/— —fr  / /  —  eez     /   / — —

/— —  / /  —  — /       —        / / — —

The players somewhere 

in paradise, the crowd 

     lost in coaxial, my black dog

     & I motionless on the couch.

Everything pops back into place already moving

like it was never lost at all,

but it was—a moment is gone—

happened, but didn’t—

and the ball falls through & snaps the net—

its sender a mystery

we never saw,

as the empty arena echoes 

with the mp3 cheering from

last year.          Droning.

/— —dr  / /  —           /  

/— —  / /  —  — / dr  —  dro / / — — ing

And pixelated boxes flurry the screen

like cherry blossoms blown off trees

by spring winds when I stared

into the reflecting pool

hungry and not alone,

and oh

            the days 

when  we dreamed 

of a sandwich

with cherry blossoms

caught in our hair.



The lithe man with

giraffe necks for legs & arms

rises up into the air

and fast as a snare crack

straightens dozens of moving parts

into a line with his

wrist & hand clapped like


a gooseneck and he

launches the basketball

into the air

the arcing journey to home


the shot is a lifetime

a beginning middle & end

in one motion


born in the cradle

of the hand & fingertips

that second ticked and

that wrist flipped

and the ball was sent into the world

to strive & reach toward


the heavens only to


be pulled back to

earth and land and the hoop

where the nylon net strings snap

with the sting

of the clock.



So many goods and bads

come with resolution at long last—

sooner than anyone watching

with held breath would think,


like it or not,

the end


victory & loss

at the same time,


and the only one

who always wins

is the end.



Yes, it was pure

poetry this morning

when I dropped

baseline, slipped my defender,

stretched my arm out in my

best white-boy Dr. J,

and laid in the basketball

reverse off the glass,

but it was also

poetry when I propelled

myself skyward like

a water buffalo trying

to break loose of

earthly bounds, missed the rebound,

came down on Raf’s foot,

twisted my ankle, and fell

to the hardwood like a dropped stack of papers,

my soul bouncing away like a

loose ball bumping slowly off the bleachers.