29 December 2010

"Say Good-bye to Big Daddy" by Randall Jarrell


     Big Daddy Lipscomb, who used to help them up

    After he'd pulled them down, so that ''the children

    Won't think Big Daddy's mean''; Big Daddy Lipscomb,

    Who stood unmoved among the blockers, like the Rock

    Of Gibraltar in a life insurance ad,

    Until the ball carrier came, and Daddy got him;

    Big Daddy Lipscomb, being carried down an aisle

    Of women by Night Train Lane, John Henry Johnson,

    And Lenny Moore; Big Daddy, his three ex-wives,

    His fiancee, and the grandfather who raised him

    Going to his grave in five big Cadillacs;

    Big Daddy, who found football easy enough, life hard enough

    To -- after his last night cruising Baltimore

    In his yellow Cadillac -- to die of heroin;

    Big Daddy, who was scared, he said: ''I've been scared

    Most of my life. You wouldn't think so to look at me.

    It gets so bad I cry myself to sleep -- '' his size

    Embarrassed him, so that he was helped by smaller men

    And hurt by smaller men; Big Daddy Lipscomb

    Has helped to his feet the last ball carrier, Death.

    The big black man in the television set

    Whom the viewers stared at -- sometimes, almost were --

    Is a blur now; when we get up to adjust the set,

    It's not the set, but a NETWORK DIFFICULTY.

    The world won't be the same without Big Daddy.

    Or else it will be.

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