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An Ekphrastic Fable about Construction Workers’ Breakless 8 Hour Effort to Remove a Racist Owner

For Alaina Getzenberg, Charlotte Observer Reporter

Alex Wells Shapiro


Strapped under the pits, bronzed Jerry Richardson flies away, sloppily offering a football by the nose to passerbys pausing at the spectacle like Jesus’s limp Sistine finger, easily fumblable if the ball wasn’t carved to be a part of his hand.

Two green eyed, prominently testicled, toothily bounding Panthers wreath an empty podium, waiting to get lifted themselves.

The second Panther is the more stubborn, bolts latched to back legs and tail resisting crane tugs until the podium itself is briefly levitated by the connection.

MORAL: Finally dismantled, daylight lost and audience dwindled to local media, the pieces are an awkward fit on the flatbed tasked with transporting them to storage. Both the weight of the Panthers and podium are a threat to Jerry’s giant fragile foot. Precarious formations are doted on as the moon, shining impotently over the encircled light towers, creeps closer toward tomorrow.


A Fable about an International Adaptation of American Football


Canada’s endzones are twice the size of American end zones, 20 yards, long enough for drawn out fade routes that use up QB’s entire internal clocks, clipped at the ears when bound by a running track. The posts stand in the center of the goal line so the kicking game is feasible, stern and solitary iron like a young safety’s shoulder setting indiscriminate stagnant hits.

MORAL: A fallen receiver leads to 3 points, 6 when a corner drops.


A Fable about a Kicker Tackling


Having reached for a whisper of jersey, fingers grasp a handful of face mask, caked mud sprinkling onto the runner’s lashes parrying dirts from gaping pupils pinging around his skull jerked against momentum with suddenness those knuckles can’t escape.

MORAL: Trainers follow flags from the sidelines.


A Fable about a Compensating Routine


His deepening fracture nudges the laces subtle, peppering the ball around the shrinking pocket he protects, whole fingers landing on the same dimples as always in support of his palms calm guidance.

MORAL: The QB’s reaction to syncopating can soothe his unit but is no use to his broad snapper’s bone stitching itself together.


Alex Wells Shapiro (he/him) is a poet and educator from the Hudson Valley, living in Chicago. He reads submissions for Another Chicago Magazine and Frontier Poetry, is a co-founder of Exhibit B: A Reading Series presented by The Guild Literary Complex, and mentors with the PEN America Prison Writing Program. He has recently published poems in Blood Tree Literature and Pangyrus.


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