Men’s League as January

By Michael Pontacoloni

Featured art by Mark Landman

After we untie skate laces wound twice
around our ankles and knotted
like the ribbon of a plastic kitchen garbage bag,

and we pop our cold-socked feet from
stiff black Tacks and Grafs
like hard pits from leathery dates,

all the blood worked up in thighs
screws down our shins and
floods our numb feet new again.

We laugh through clenched teeth at the charge
and fuzz of it, our toes
swelling round to halogen bulbs and

buzzing with a filament of joyful pain,
that brittle wire.
Burning cold they

might shatter so in old gray sneakers we
hobble to the parking lot,
at the open trunk of Ryan’s gray Corolla wobble

under sweaty hats and clouds of breath
and dispute the long-gone referees
with Narragansett cans till midnight.

We cough. We kick a snowbank.
Our neck hairs
icen to filigrees. Geno
glows in a T-shirt. What bright glass,
this golden crescent of beer in a can rim
yearning to freeze.

Michael Pontacoloni‘s poems appear in Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Denver Quarterly, Pleiades, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. He has received scholarships and support from the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He lives in Hartford, where he runs a small vintage clothing company.

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