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The Team of Disappointing Men, a poem by Michael Brockley

                              The Team of Disappointing Men
                                                  by Michael Brockley

At the misfits’ lunch table at your professional development conference, you introduce yourself to a man who grew up in a dozen American cities and a woman who earned All-State honors as a field hockey striker in Ohio. Over appetizers your group steers the conversation toward a lament about disappointing teams. The Metssays the traveling man. You offer the woeful Reds. She cuts her vegan lasagna into bite-sized cubes. Studies the afternoon schedule, choosing between this year’s empowerment lecture and a PowerPoint on malingering. 

You never called the women you met at a restaurant named for a lazy cartoon cat after you promised them you would. Once stood up a blind date to take her best friend to hear Juice Newton moan Angel of the Morning at the Key Palace Theater to a crowd reliving one-night stands from thirty years ago. But the striker slices through a sorrow more grief than grievance; a noxious cocktail of emailed erection snapshots and Instagram betrayals. Like the youth pastor who slaps a newswoman’s butt as he jogs past her during a benefit race for a battered women’s shelter. Like the man who awakens his stepdaughter to roll her over into yet another depthless night.

For decades, you’ve ridden the bench on a team of disappointing men, making yourself invaluable for all the positions you can play. Always eager with a chuckle or a nod to hear how another woman breaks down. Like the striker at our table cutting her lasagna. She never looks up. Says Men. MenA man from your team left the dark silences that shadow the striker’s eyes. A man very much like you.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Panophyzine, New Verse News, and Flying Island.