The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Robert Brickhouse

Names of Old Teammates


ran our rival’s T-plays
on the scout team
with such joy
the coaches put him in the real game
to baffle and wreak havoc.

hitchhiked to school with no breakfast,
no braggadocio, anchored
both sides of the line, retired
a multi-millionaire.

wore thick glasses with a head band,
wasn’t fast or strong,
guided us up and down the court
with calm precision.

had a gentle heart, a twisted
smile if he liked you,
sharp elbows if he didn’t and
a fo’-barrel fifty-fo’ Ford.

could barely see
over the middle he backed. Any
runner who got that far
never knew what hit him.

saved my ass one night
when I walked alone through his part of town.
Challenged to a fight by a dimwit in a beater,
I said “you know Bugsy?”
He said “any friend of Bugsy’s is a friend of mine.”

led the state in sacks and held the shotput record.
He’d lock his hands behind his head
at the end of every wind sprint,
strut around to catch his breath and teach us
how good it was to be alive.




ROBERT BRICKHOUSE's poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, among them the Southern Poetry Review, Poet Lore, the Texas Review, Atlanta Review, Louisiana Literature, the Chattahoochee Review, Front Range, and Light Quarterly. He’s published fiction as well, in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pleiades, and the anthology That’s What I Like About the South (University of South Carolina Press). He’s worked for many years as a writer and editor for newspapers and university publications in Virginia. 



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