"I zigged when I should have zagged"


Teddy Grubbs, lead us out of here
where we can fly the coop
the both of us in the same boat
(or is it the same plane?)

Need to go ahead together,
soar above those damn clouds
too much to prove, too much to gain
so thick, so gray, hopeless

Who else from DePaul could lead me
you burned UCLA
now step up and assume your crown--
don’t revert to your shell

Show me the way beyond the sky
walking atop rare air
hard living to your potential
I know you know how to

I glimpsed that time you went up there,
so proud and so cocksure
everyone who saw you said,
" just hanging up there --- sweet"

Over ghettos who could touch you?
no one really came close,
you easily identified,
the number 28

that night jealous people whispered,
"such natural talent
money in the bank-- a sure bet--
ain’t no ways we can lose"

Others expected more from you,
coming back a hero
and demanded you fly higher,
"Next time reach the heavens."

What happened next is history,
or plain mythology,
depends on who you listen to
about Teddy and me,

mere spectator who tags along,
following him skyward,
both headed toward the bright sun,
heedless of the danger

aerodynamically smooth,
vertical instruments
driven blindly by ambition
or false expectations.

Wait up for me trailing behind
Teddy Grubbs, my savior
who got confused and strayed off course
allow me to catch up.

He stepped on the out-of-bounds line,
in unfamiliar space
nervous head, arms and legs twitchy
pulsating back and forth

Like a deflated basketball
I reach out and grasp air
hyperventilated, choking
as he gasped short of breath

Go up, Teddy, keep going up,
never been up this high
but he stopped and stayed still too long
in absolute panic

past the stars so close to the sun
whose fierce heat scorched his wings
losing control, hysterical,
treading frantic hot air

before falling straight down slowly.
I maneuver hard right
as his melted self spiraled by
avoiding collision

but Teddy Grubbs drags me along
caught in his jetstream down
struggling against velocity,
victim of circumstance

He crashed into the huge crowd first
huddled on the hard ground
pointing their waxed fingers at us,
two figures in the sky

plummeting fast who strike paydirt.
I land on top of him
but I zigged when I should have zagged
and walk away, unhurt.

You see, it took some time before
I got over crashing
and took another running start,
flapping away, carefree.