Loser Flare

posted May 18, 2010

Winners wear
the hats, the shirts, the flare

that say so: CHAMPION
in cotton-poly neon.

And what about the other T’s?
No television sees

the second batch,

to threadbare zones
like Sierra Leone

where loser-teams
reign supreme.

are redone. Pigskins soar

between the posts
of ghost

games. Ugandans celebrate
a fated

loss they’ve never known.
No one

sees until a documentary
spins its story

from an electricity-
free town. Victory

thinks the viewer, is upside down,
and a boy hails a false touchdown

and a bucket of water
from a filthy river,
and yes everyone, everyone’s a winner.

Heather Kirn's nonfiction has been noted in The Best American Essays, and published by such journals as Prairie Schooner, Florida Review, and Colorado Review. Her poems have appeared most recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Cincinnati Review. She lives and teaches in Berkeley, California, where she's at work on a memoir about her two years teaching in a west Baltimore high school.

We’ve published two more poems by Kirn: “Hometown Tour after the Base Shuts Down” and “L'esprit de L'escalier.”