Robert Cooperman

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Howard Cosell Gets a Second Life

He constantly boasted, “I tell it like it is,”
the man of whom one wag accused, “He turns
the world of sports into the Nuremburg Trials,”
the man who announced—his voice lachrymose
with personal loss, on Monday Night Football
that John Lennon had just been murdered, then declared,
“I can’t believe I had lunch with him last week!”
We switched off the TV and cried ourselves
to sleep, after wanting to kick Cosell’s ass

What could contain that ego in his next life? 
Nothing, except, maybe being a Congressman
from a district so safe, the other party never ran
an opponent for the seat: the chairman of a committee
that could hold up any presidential appointment or bill:
he was like the old joke about which body part
was in charge?  The asshole.

He sumo-wrestled his weight around the Capitol
as if on steroids and enough caffeine to keep a herd
of elephants awake and belligerent their entire lifespans. 
But to his credit, despite all the hot air that billowed
out of him like Bessemer mill plumes, he refused
to accept visits or gifts from billionaires begging
for their industries to outsource to workforces paid
starvation wages, when paid at all; he was anathema
to oil companies dying to turn every square acre
of America into a chugging well, like the Little,
or in this case, the Big, Engine that could, and did.

And the little guys?  Us?  We couldn’t stand him,
and we loved him, for once again telling it like it is.

Wilt Chamberlain in His Next Life, After the NBA

By day, he plays carefree volleyball,
considered even better at spiking
than he was at his famed Dipper Dunks
and deadly fade-away jumpers.

A cover for his real career, his real love:
a private investigator, in trench coat and fedora,
trying to look as inconspicuous as a 7’1” black man
is able to, melting into a shadow-dark corner,
trailing a murderer the cops can’t find evidence
to pin the crime on, but the victim’s gorgeous wife
has begged him to avenge her husband
and finally give her peace of mind.

So he tails a henchman, hoping the gunsil
will lead him to the killer, the kingpin
of a corrupt city, but Wilt’s fearless;
right’s on his side, and that widow’s
doe-sorrowful eyes keep him determined.
He tracks down the crucial evidence,
confronts the sneering gangster, dispatches him
with a left-right, and calls the cops,
telling them he has all the proof they need.

Afterwards, the widow gives the big feller
a luscious, lingering kiss, sheds a tear,
closes her eyes, rises on tip-toe, and traces
a soft hand along his jaw, as if to commit it
to memory, then stalks away.

Back in his office on this night of sad fog,
he cracks open a bottle of the aged single malt
he’s been saving, to toast that goddess
he’ll pine for until his dying day.

Robert Cooperman's latest collections are Draft Board Blues (FutureCycle Press) and City Hat Frame Factory (Kelsay Books). In the Colorado Gold Fever Mountains (Western Reflections Books) won the Colorado Book Award for Poetry.