Barabaig, Losing Land in… | Central League Hockey Night


poems by Timothy Bradford


Barabaig, Losing Land In Native Tanzania, Consider Washington State



—from the spine of National Geographic, July 2004


The sun
needs no cocaine
to run its brain as it hides from Olympic Park.
The elephant-hunting Barabaig
of Tanzania and wind scorpions
sacrifice more to it than a Moche priest in a Peru Temple,
or the retirees in Nalcrest, FL.

No dogs wake in Nalcrest, FL,
to the sun.
They’re forbidden, along with Peru Temple-
style sacrifices of softball game losers, and cocaine.
Wind scorpions,
while not forbidden, are as rare there as Olympic Park
rain and redwoods. Tuesdays are Barabaig

Bingo, Thursdays Coral Society, Fridays Barabaig
Bar-B-Que Night. Mmmmm, Nalcrest, FL,
redolent with roasting elephant again. Olympic Park’s
horsetail, hedge nettle, and salmonberry smell similar when the sun
warms them, which it seldom does. Wind scorpion?
Tastes like chicken, not elephant. But the aftertaste is like Peru Temple
prisoner pre-sacrifice cottonmouth. Not as pleasant as cocaine.

A Moche priest adorned in gold silt and glimmering like cocaine
on a mirror in July’s meager shade slit throats like the Barabaig
dismember the gray elephant after a hunt. Peru Temple
sites such as Huaca Cao Viejo harbor the victims’ bones while Nalcrest, FL,
hosts the “old bones” that remain alive, some as brittle as a dead wind scorpion’s
exoskeleton, some still as pliable as an Olympic Park
vine maple and staying that way with the sun’s

vitamin D-eliciting kiss, like the sun
is out on cocaine
or something. Why’re ya back near Olympic Park
already, ya jerk sun? We’re done with you like the Barabaig
have no use for elephant guns—spears, baby, spears. Wind scorpions
don’t hear, exactly, but feel, as you feel with the Peru Temple
of your ear. Retired ears in Nalcrest, FL,

have nothing to fear save the deafening bite of alligators in Nalcrest, FL.
Astronomers, seeking a different perspective, walk on the sun
after sacrificing themselves inside Peru Temples.
Their astral bodies the color of cocaine,
they move through space like wind scorpions
and possess the fecundity of all the flora in Olympic Park,
the bravery of the Barabaig.

The sun is the giant yellow elephant they hunt like the Barabaig,
on foot, for days, no food or water, only spears. Nalcrest, FL,
is close to Kennedy, where they monitor such astronomers and Olympic Park
marijuana fields, hidden under mist from normal surveillance and the sun
that dawns, golden as a wind scorpion,
and feeds the bloodless friezes on the sides of Peru Temples
their actual daily dose of astral cocaine.

In truth, the sun, source of all energy on earth, needs cocaine
occasionally, like Olympic Park needs occasional sun, Barabaig
spear-throwing contests, wind scorpions, and Peru Temple
replicas to inspire some to retire there, not in flat, sunny Nalcrest, FL.



Central League Hockey Night

Before the contest, the arena’s halls
and maculate concrete floors
echo the roiling, unintelligible polyphony

of a crowd excited. Between periods,
or during, children, released
from the adult spectacle, return with miniature

plastic hockey sticks for pickup games.
Their intricate scrum near concessions recalls
a drawing of an eighteenth-century

Iroquois lacrosse match. Deeper inside the arena,
the crowd surrounds the ice with a studied
intensity, like medical students at an anatomy lesson,

and the light is sterile white tinged with blue,
the color of mother’s milk. The crowd
is of one, maybe two, minds. It stands

for the allegiance and an early fight
in which the visiting team’s player gets it
right on the chin, goes down hard.

Many rise for refreshments and return
to masticate peanuts, nachos, and pizza
from thick, delicate, hairy, manicured, slight,

and greedy hands while beer sloshes
down gullets, down stairs. On the ice,
players give as much as young men

with a limited future in a sport can. They earn
30K a season, which isn’t bad unless you consider
the likelihood of taking a puck in the teeth

or drawing a bigger, more embittered
opponent in a fight. Or ash-tree stick
across the back of the neck, 10-hour stinking

bus ride for a 5-game series on the road,
homeless. The lucky ones end up coaches
or managers by 35, but tonight the crowd

gets them all confused with luck
when the home team goes up by 3
in the 3rd period of play, and the youngest

children’s faces wear the anonymity of sleep
like a classic goalie’s mask. The red
and blue lines, immobile in the rink’s ice,

cannot be erased but will
melt after the game to reveal
the poker-faced concrete beneath.




Timothy Bradford