Born in Canada—
Born in Canada—
After the canoes and kayaks have been lifted out
of the water, the painted lines on fields and courts erased,
the nets lowered, the bicycles sent for tune-ups, the scoreboards
reprogrammed, the trunks and singlets tossed in the wash,
sneakers unlaced, pools drained, gloves hung, mats soaked
in vinegar, the show jumps dismantled, ticket stubs
recycled, the starting blocks stored, hurdles stacked,
concession stands closed down.
After the flags have been reverently folded
and all the medals and tears distributed.
You pack up your kits and board your planes and trains,
returning to your home countries for brief respites and parades,
icing your sprains and other sore spots, managing your families
and egos, and stroking memories of when you exposed
yourself to the whims of history.
We wash our faces, and turn off our televisions,
stop frantically checking our devices for good news,
and go back to our own daily grinds,
our private successes and failures,
with heavy hearts and heavier dreams
which award us few medals and fewer fans,
our unknown journeys but known eventual destination
diligently training for our own fearfully perfect dismounts.
At customs officials welcome passports by cheers.
Everyone you encounter is immediately identified numerically
according to level of ability.
Roads are sectioned into individual lanes.
Paperwork is filed by relay.
Pain: an unlimited resource used for fuel.
Engineers and architects work round the block
on cutting-edge renovations.
Medical reports are written in invisible ink. After applying
lemon juice and tears, an image of your future self appears.
One ought never be caught being a couch potato.
In the event of a false-start, the guilty party is called back
to the line for a second chance.
All lovers are mandated to remain within 50 centimetres
of each other at all times.
Wheelchair Rugby Haiku
You plead not guilty
to murder. Guilty to break-
ing and entering.
Boccia Love Haiku
Cards on the table.
You interfere with my plans.
The jack up your sleeve.
Goalball Love Haiku
Passed around the heart
Rings with displeasure. Hold me.
I will bless your hands.
Nothing like peer pressure
to counter our natures.
Embarrassed by public displays
of affection, the tyranny of the screen
intervenes, turning spectators
into temporary tabloids.
A mother smooches her child.
Sulky teenagers stick out their tongues.
First dates get to first base.
Complacent couples ignite repressed sparks.
The elderly elicit squirms or aaahhs.
Quarreling friends remember their manners.
Passionate lovers are grateful for any excuse.
with barely enough time to register
The crowd embraces random serendipity.
You were hoping, tonight, to go home
with a little love in your heart.
You didn’t expect to be the one to give it.
Check out other Olympics and Paralympics-inspired poems by Priscila Uppal.
Girls at a slumber party
in comfy pants and tight Ts
bunched like bean bags
on the floor, giggling uncontrollably
at the antics of truth or dare.
Truth: I prefer the world from this angle.
Dare: Dance on your hands.
Truth: I believe the floor pinches me.
Dare: Reveal your bruises.
Truth: Alternating positions unnerves me.
Dare: Spike the punch.
No boys allowed,
the girls bump and grind
comparing body types
making goofy home videos
and pigging out on power.
through holes in the net.
Today’s London 2012 Paralympics-inspired poem was inspired by Sitting Volleyball.
Sitting Volleyball at the Excel Centre. It had never occurred to me that you could play volleyball by sliding yourself across the ground (I initially thought the athletes would be competing in wheelchairs). The game looked genuinely fun and intimate, dynamic but less aggressive than conventional volleyball. - Priscila Uppal
Three lanes is this alley,
the ball chiming its intentions
to stay clear of the gutter,
find a safety net.
Like all desires,
this one too is thwarted
by treacherous traps,
the erection of efficient defences.
Sometimes it’s kinder
to remain in the dark
on all fours, shielded from
the ugly truths and feeling
your way in your bones of urge
to your unique failures,
your cherished prides.
For we are the sport of the gods.
Human pins toppled
in a series of strikes.
Today’s Paralympics-inspired poem is about the sport of Goalball. Goalball is like handball and is played by the visually impaired. Each side has three players, each wearing shades over their eyes. They take turns trying to send a ringing ball into the net. There are three defenders to get the ball past, who are usually on the ground and, once they hear where the ball is headed, stretch their bodies out to block the shots.
You don’t need to check
listings for your number.
Swagger up to the jukebox
and watch the needle drop.
Your movements imprinted
on those dark grooves.
Step back and slowly,
Slowly tap your toes
as the dance floor fills.
Your record spins now
on its own momentum.
This is the tune you’ll be
humming in elevators
for the rest of your life.
For Oscar Pistorius
My mother’s favourite film—
over 100 screenings in the theatre over three decades
and she’s not embarrassed in the slightest
because she’s not the only one
who upholds its spot in the epitome of sci-fi.
And I grew up in my father’s lap
adjusting the TV antenna
and my fascination with modern science
as we followed the adventures of the Million Dollar Man.
While my nephew parkours about
the basement in Iron Man T-shirts
and Optimus Prime masks.
You are our future fantasies
bolting into the present, caught in HD
on our video screens, proving
the human-replicant debate
All that matters in the end
is the planet is dying
and we require imagination implants
to search for new conceptions
I had the historic pleasure of watching Oscar Pistorius smash the world record in the 200m in the third heat of the qualifications rounds: 20.30 in front of a crowd of 80,000 yesterday at Olympic Park. - Priscila Uppal
The first takes us back to edge of the world.
The second to when we were tadpoles in the pool of time.
The third turns crystals into chrysalides.
All so the fourth can set each one free.
“Medley” is the third in a series of daily poems by Priscila Uppal as an LRC correspondent and Can Fund poet-in-residence at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “The Power of Suggestion” was inspired by cycling; “Three Views of a Ramp” is a wheelchair-shaped poem inspired by sports, ramps, podiums.