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Sport 36: Winter 2008

The Strenuous Life

page 185

The Strenuous Life

is the title of a best seller from 1910.
It was written by Theodore Roosevelt,
the President of America. In its day,
it was the template for young men of ambition.

And here are the poets reading.

See how this one stretches up on his tippy toes,
cranes forward over the high page,
crooks one leg behind him as if he's in the starting blocks,
rocking himself into the finals of the national hurdles.

How this one lays his leg back and back
like an anchor. How he lifts it
and stretches out away from it like a kid
who thinks he's a plane or at the very least a fighter pilot.

The famous writer, lolling back
in the sagging sofa, a woman on each arm
and a glass of red wine in each fist, has a question.
'Why is it that when women read,
they always fold their hands over their crotch?'

It's a question designed to shame.

Well, fuck him, that's all I have to say.