Practice

Practice
There they are again.
Faint thuds, incessant,
demanding attention
like an unlatched
barn door banging
in the winter wind.
Perhaps that’s all it is,
a door ajar;
or a pile-drive pounding
columns for the overpass
that will (we are promised)
help us navigate
the snarling traffic;
or the boy two streets down,
imagining a game
on the line, dribbling slowly
as he readies for the
final shot.
But I deceive myself.
I know if I travel
a few miles southwest,
past the spoiled Ogeechee
and twisted pines,
I’ll see mangled earth,
I’ll feel air crinkle
with concussive
power. Ft. Stewart
trains for death.
Soon
they’ll set their sights
on flesh, on foreign
barns and bridges,
just as hopeful as
my neighbor kid that
practice pays off.
 ———————————–
This is a second draft of an earlier poem–still not fully satisfied with it, but it seemed to fit tonight’s prompt over at dVerse, where poets Victoria Slotto and Pamela Sayers have us writing about our places of residence. I live in Savannah, GA. I could have written about a lot of things, for Savannah is a city of wonderful beauty and history. It is also a military town, with three bases within close driving distance. I chose to write about that.
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26 thoughts on “Practice

  1. Nico, this is so well described. I've never been in Savannah but it is one place I would love to go. I am so taken with history in the South and have had friends long ago from Savannah who sung her praises.

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  2. just as hopeful as the neighbor kid practicing shots…ugh…just a different kinda shot…smiles..i can relate to that kid though…i spent quite a bit of time at the basket out back my parents growing up…a nice escape…pretty crazy you can hear the pounding…

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  3. The only Savannah I know is from the movies, so this is the modern side not the romantic old south… I love your descriptions and the parallels between thump thump of the basketball and waiting for a shot and the army practicing for opening other barn doors…leaves a sad bite.

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  4. I also hear the pounding from nearby Ft. Lewis…always a dichotomy between the natural beauty and the strategic aspect
    our world's need to be at war it's distant drum…nicely written, Nico.

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  5. I've visited Savannah a couple of times…a beautiful city…well, where I was anyway. It is filled with beauty, history and depth. I didn't know of the military bases…would not like to hear the “preparation” noises.

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  6. love the unlatched barn door banging in the winter wind…sets up the scene perfectly..and the door ajar, the boy dribbling…we have a military base a bit away as well..one night i was driving with a friend in car and we saw them on the road with all the panzers and military cars..was just a training but never forget how frightened i was..

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  7. Tracing annoying sounds, and knowing they are going to be from something which bothers us: Know the feeling, and also hate the implications of those sounds and often smells.
    Well constructed.

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  8. Thanks Victoria–I moved here in 1999, and cannot think of living elsewhere. Enough city for convenience, enough wild for peacefulness, close to the coast, interesting history and architecture, moderate weather. Beware of visiting–you may never return home.

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  9. Thanks Pamela. My people are from Tennessee (still have some family there), and I used to visit every year. Been awhile now, it's time to get back to the mountains for a few weeks.

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  10. Thanks Brian, I spent a lot of hours shooting hoops as well. I still get out with the boys every once in a while, but I no longer have the knees to have any game. Ft. Stewart has public hunting/fishing land, but you don't want to be on it during bombing practice. A little unsettling to be out in the woods and hear bombs and small-arms fire.

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  11. Thanks Di–some of the old south romance is true to reality, but there is always an ugly side, isn't there? Leave it to a melancholy poet to point the ugly out!

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  12. Thanks Bodhi–one of these days I'll write a little of Savannah's good features. I'm not a city/crowd person, but River St. and really the whole downtown area is a blast. Until last year I was in the construction business, and had the privilege of working on some of the historic downtown buildings. Wonderful architecture, and I loved seeing the old craftmanship used in those days.

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  13. Thanks Claudia–sometimes when the bombers and choppers fly in low, I imagine what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of that firepower. Not cool.

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  14. Thanks Karin–yeah, I don't like to think of it either. I don't know why humans have the urge to fight and kill. Have you ever heard that song “Right in Two” by Tool? It's worth a listen. Maybe I'll post it on the blog later.

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  15. I like how you used the title to introduce the theme of practice throughout the poem: self-deception, basketball, war, and then link the three. The self-deceiving idea that war can be practiced like basketball. All the while we get to see Savannah. This poem reminds me of how it feels to live in Alabama, the awesome and the awful. This is an excellent read, and I'd like to listen to you read it aloud.

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  16. Nico- I so like the way you took us on this tour using the sound – the thud. The rural, the city, the neighborhood, the country , then the Ft and practice range – all the while we follow you and the thud. Beautiful first stanza by the way – K

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  17. Thanks Heidi–awesome and awful, all wrapped up in one place. I've thought about trying some sound clips but in thinking about it, it all starts to seem like too much trouble. Maybe one day . . .

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