I once kept a notebook with all the plays, all
Coach’s sayings and what they really meant.
“You’re the best practice player we’ve ever had,”
A flush of pride before I realized what that said.
So I studied reflex. Measured glint. Another coach,
one I loved like a father, gave me a book
on the Winner’s Edge, how to train your brain
for Success. Of course I read it cover
to cover, took notes. I learned the killer instinct
was unlearnable, winners eat winning
for breakfast, to win is to fly, winners keep that certain
flint of barbaric grace, one win is worth two deaths,
winning sets the doves free, a winner’s eye contains
rare air and blue sky, winners never cheat or they
always cheat but they always win, winning is brain
food, winning is god’s favorite food, winning is
the music that plays at good weddings, to practice
winning is to win your dreams, winners are giants,
winners are passionate roman-nosed hotties, to win
is to give yourself a red-blooded rose, winning is
a skin, winning is Mt. Rushmore, winning is colonizing,
winning is cave man, there’s no pit a winner can’t
rise from, winning is a mask, winning is a domino
for more winning, winning is a band-aid, winning
is the always green grass, cool air off the water,
winners wear dark sunglasses, winners roll over
losers, stick an “L” on their foreheads, keep on
rolling as the faces of the losers become dirt,
become the ground we stand on.
Jefferson Navicky is the author of four books, most recently the novel-in-prose-poems, Head of Island Beautification for the Rural Outlands (2023), as well as Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments in Short Prose (2021), which won the 2022 Maine Literary Book Award for Poetry. He is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection.