Rink Keeper's Sestina: Hockey, Hockey

Call me Zamboni. Nights my job is hockey.
I make the ice and watch the kids take slapshots
At each other. They act like Esposito,
As tough in the slot as Phil, as wild with fury
In fights. Their coaches tell me this is pleasure.
But it isn’t pleasure. What it is, is Hockey.

Now let me tell you what I mean by Hockey.
I mean the fights. I mean young kids in fury,
And all these coaches yelling for more slapshots.
I tell you, blood is spilled here. This is pleasure?
It seems to me the coaches should teach hockey,
Not how to act like Schultz or Esposito.
Look, I have nothing against Phil Esposito.
He’s one of the greats, no question, it’s a pleasure
To watch him play. My point is, why teach fury?
If I know life (at least if I know hockey),
Then fury’s here to stay. We don’t need Hockey
To tell us that, we don’t need fights and slapshots.
Like yesterday. I heard a coach yell, “Slapshots!
Take slapshots, son! You think Phil Esposito
Hangs back? And hit! And hit again! That’s hockey!”
But he was wrong. The kid was ten. That’s Hockey.
You could tell the boy admired his coach’s fury.
It won’t be long before he hits with pleasure.
Sure, I’m no saint. I know. I’ve gotten pleasure
From fury, too, like any man. And hockey
At times gets changed around in me to Hockey.
I’ve yelled for blood at Boston Garden. Slapshots?
They’ve thrilled me. I’ve seen men clobber Esposito
And loved it when he hit them back with fury.
But you know what? Before these days of fury,
When indoor rinks were just a gleam in Hockey
Fanatics’ eyes, there was no greater pleasure
Than winter mornings. Black ice. (Esposito
Knew days like this as a boy.) Some friends. No slapshots,
But a clear, cold sky. Choose teams. Drop the puck. Play hockey.
Yes, before big Hockey (sorry, Esposito),
Before the fury and all the blazing slapshots,
We had great pleasure outdoors playing hockey.