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By Mark Halliday

In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”

and at the snap I took off along the right sideline

and then cut across left in a long arc

and I’m sure I was open at several points—

glancing back I saw you pump-fake more than once

but you must not have been satisfied with what you saw downfield

and then I got bumped off course and my hands touched the turf

but I regained my balance and dashed back to the right

I think or maybe first left and then right

and I definitely got open but the throw never came—


maybe you thought I couldn’t hang on to a ball flung so far

or maybe you actually can’t throw so far

but in any case I feel quite open now,

the defenders don’t seem too interested in me

I sense only open air all around me

though the air is getting darker and it would appear

by now we’re well into the fourth quarter

and I strongly doubt we can afford to settle for

dinky little first downs if the score is what I think it is


so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary

with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith

and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic

and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say

in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game

it is not impossible that I will make the catch.


Mark Halliday, "Wide Receiver" from Thresherphobe. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Halliday.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Thresherphobe (The University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Poet Bio

Poet Mark Halliday earned a BA and an MA from Brown University, and a PhD from Brandeis University. Influenced by New York School poets Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, Halliday writes disarmingly accessible and humorous poems that use conversational markers to lead the reader on nuanced metaphysical, postmodern, and personal explorations.

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