Wayne F. Burke

Coach Gains aka "Ripper", bear-like and
with beer gut and mashed-face stands
in the center of the circle,
the woods around the field dark,
a mountain behind him
we sit on the soft grass
football helmets in our laps;
Coach Gain's gruff sepulchral voice
clear as a bell as he tells the
story of the "dirty player" a guy
whom Coach had played against
in Semi-Pro ball; a guy who kicked and
punched and even bit in the pile-ups';
a guy "Ripper" vowed to get, and did
driving his helmet into the guy's gut
once, twice, three times, like a pile-driver
until the guy collapsed and had to be
carried off the field then taken to the
hospital where...he died.
Cigarettes of coaches and fathers glow
like fire flies; stars shine, and somewhere
six feet under, lies the dirty player, killed by
Ripper, who, during the day, drives a truck
for the Highway Department.

Wayne F. Burke has published six full-length poetry collections. 5 with Bareback Press and 1 with Alien Buddha Press. Most recently, DIFLUCAN (2019). 

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