A Poem For Tuesday
by Zoë Pollock
"Say Good-bye to Big Daddy" by Randall Jarrell appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1967:
Big Daddy Lipscomb, who used to help them up
After he'd pulled them down, so that ''the children
Won't think Big Daddy's mean''; Big Daddy Lipscomb,
Who stood unmoved among the blockers, like the Rock
Of Gibralter in a life insurance ad,
Until the ball carrier came, and Daddy got him;
Big Daddy Lipscomb, being carried down an aisle
Of women by Night Train Lane, John Henry Johnson,
And Lenny Moore; Big Daddy, his three ex-wives,
His fiancee, and the grandfather who raised him
Going to his grave in five big Cadillacs;
Big Daddy, who found football easy enough, life hard enough
To -- after his last night cruising Baltimore
In his yellow Cadillac -- to die of heroin;
Big Daddy, who was scared, he said: ''I've been scared
Most of my life. You wouldn't think so to look at me.
It gets so bad I cry myself to sleep -- '' his size
Embarrassed him, so that he was helped by smaller men
And hurt by smaller men; Big Daddy Lipscomb
Has helped to his feet the last ball carrier, Death.
The big black man in the television set
Whom the viewers stared at -- sometimes, almost were --
Is a blur now; when we get up to adjust the set,
It's not the set, but a NETWORK DIFFICULTY.
The world won't be the same without Big Daddy.
Or else it will be.
(Image of Eugene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb via Behind The Steel Curtain)