the old quarterback

he came to Los Angeles
with his dimples in the mid-thirties of his life
famous upon commercials
having had more women in his lifetime than
the first ten men you’d pass on the street
and he got a $450,000 salary for his first year
and his knees were in braces
and his arm was cheesecake.
he’d had one good season
since then it had been a media build-up.
the boys out here figured he’d fill the stadium
upon his name alone.
they were wrong
when the lob passes
kept getting picked off by
fast-running cornermen
the dream began to diminish
and a Rhodes scholar in his early twenties
came in and almost saved a lost game
with no time left.

now the old quarterback sits on the bench
drawing his $450,000 and not being

well, some investments go wrong.
the old quarterback may not be hurting one way
but he’s hurting another.

it’s sad
I wish he could do it
but I think it’s gone
and he knows it’s gone
and the crowd
bled of the dream
cheers the Rhodes scholar on.

the old quarterback not only lobbed it
to the defensive backs
he was sucked in from the beginning
he went with it.

I can’t think of anybody who gets paid
for doing less.

hey, you in the back row!
I heard that!
sit down.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: