I Swear I Saw Racquetball Save a Man’s Life

By Judd Spicer

I swear I saw racquetball save a man’s life
Fitness and focus replace struggle and strife
His commitment to self now renewed, and rife
I swear I saw racquetball save a man’s life

He arrived at the court a mere shell of a man
His appearance akin to a Raggedy Dan
Unkempt hair, wrinkled collar, shaggy cuffs, rusted van
Dirtied nails were extended from peeling, pale hands

His life had no purpose, no compass, no plan
His days owned no meaning, and his nights held no span
He was wit-less and fit-less, lacking friends, without clan
His home held no mantle, and his work had no fan

I gave him a racquet and said, “This is your spear.”
And with wan reservation the man set down his beer
Past his sad eyes I leaned, and then spoke in his ear:
“Play these strings as a harp, and your life you will hear.”

At first, he was sluggish and bullish and slow
His ball lacked direction and his feet had no flow
He hacked up the tar of the day’s Marlboro
His flesh mirrored whiteness of the winter’s first snow

He quit once, then again, but I offered no pass
I’d schedule for 4; he’d arrive at half-past
He’d bitch, cry out “Hinder!”, and he’d whine unabashed
For weeks this continued, for months this would last

And when he reported, his hopes I would crash
To the floor he would crumble, to the wall he would crash
With kill shots and z-shots -- I poured out my cache
Past his still, confused form my Adidas would dash

But then one day, on Sunday, he whole life turned around
It occurred, as per usual: 13-Love he was down
He hit off the ceiling, to the mid-court I bound
But I smashed not the ball -- for his nose I had found

To my shock, he stood even, his feet firm on the ground
His face a mosaic of red, purple and brown
He presented no frenzy, no furrow, no frown
Just adjusted his goggles to his busted-up crown

I nodded in awe as he asked for the ball
And stood there in silence as he stretched on the wall
My neck sweat stood cold with his measured point call
And I knew, at that moment, that my prowess would fall

The next 60-minutes I recall with delight
In defeat: I stood witness to a fallen man’s flight
For my friend, the court ceiling became limitless light
He had regained fire, his fervor, his fight

I swear I saw racquetball save a man’s life
Fitness and focus replace struggle and strife
His commitment to self now renewed, and rife
I swear I saw racquetball save a man’s life

Through the power of pain, a man’s body responds
Through the body, the mind becomes vibrant and strong
Through the mind, comes the dream, passing purpose anon
To the days, and the gaze, and the games we have drawn.

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