Poetry Archive


Head to Head II

(Duking it at the Millennium)

Stephen Bett

The caption beside the 'community' tab slash marketing
organ's front page photo-spread announces a Ruckus
Four snappy freeze-frame photos narrating a local street-
corner duke out       Twenty-something guy, stocky, lank
dark hair, swarthy, high cheek bones, beady eyes, worn
two-tone football jacket pushing a giant M (Michigan?)

jeans, mtn boots, peeling around from the driver's side,
car dead-stopped in intersection, to accost a pedestrian
he's evidently "bumped" on cross walk and who's just
hammered his fist along our driver's Main Machine

Second and third photos show "pedestrian," a full head
taller, older (late 50s?), looking v. much the grumpy /
sour-face / mean-mouth disciplinarian-type football
coach       Flings the dude guy, shoulder first, onto the
trunk of his surprisingly nondescript, white, four-
door sedan, cuffs him on the forehead

The last picture shows the now macho-compromised
"motorist" caught, head still a-swivel, somewhere
between offense and defense       Sidelong corner-eye
contact, finger pointing obtusely at "coach," driver's legs
stiffly apart, back on heels, splay-foot

It all reads like a magic marker play, four parter,
under gridiron colours two looming background
signs - red/white one flags photographer's own
low-brow rag behind red/blue Sally Ann,
likewise full block coverage, even odd
ideologues, for our info-tainment

Plus one does notice, creditably, the closing shot
black and white - a sequence played to the socio-
sporting annals       Two "combatants" like split-
ends left out at the millennial
line of scrimmage



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Stephen Bett has ten books of poetry published: Split (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems (Longspoon Press, 1983).

His work has also appeared in over 100 journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, and Finland, as well as in two anthologies, and on radio. He is a member of the English Department at Langara College in Vancouver.

For reviews of his books, please see www.stephenbett.com


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