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)