Say Good-Bye to Big Daddy

by Randall Jarrell
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 Gibraltar 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 fiancée, 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.