Buckeye Poetry: Appreciation, Explanation and "Ohio Stadium in Summer"

BuckeyePoetLaureate's picture
July 14, 2013 at 2:15p

Fellow Buckeyes -

First of all, I have to thank all of the folks who were so kind in the comments of my first Buckeye poetry blog post.  I expected people to be nice, as I've been lurking on 11W for quite some time, but I had no idea that my little poem would inspire some of you guys and gals to write poetry of your own!  As I said, I'm a writer and a teacher, so there isn't much that makes me happier than fostering a critical spark in others.  So keep them coming!

And I wanted to say a few words about poetry itself.  Sometimes I forget about good-hearted people who have misconceptions about poetry and what it can be.  Poetry is really just playing with words in order to tell a story or communicate a feeling.  Think about your children or remember what you were like when you were young.  You loved playing with words; they were magic!  Many of us lose this idea along the way.  I will agree that some poetry is a little hard to understand at first; I get it.  It's the same as a quarterback trying to read a college defense after years of looking at high school defenses.  Success is determined by practice and open-mindedness.  When you read my poems or those of others, go ahead and let your shields down.  We're all just playing with language to glorify our Buckeyes or to make fun of Brady Hoke or to understand how we feel about our recent troubles and so on.  I'll use the metaphor again: our Buckeye poetry is like NFL Films.  Both of these things look at sports through a specific lens and help us understand them on a different level.

This week, friends, I present a poem that is appropriate for this time of the year.  We're all waiting for kickoff of the 2013 season, but it seems like FOREVER, right?  The truth is that the spirit of Ohio State athletics is never dormant.

Ohio Stadium in Summer

Kenneth Nichols

To untrained eyes, the ‘Shoe is lying dormant;
So few walk past, so few may stir within.
The scoreboard dead, concessions locked and shuttered.
The nearby streets are tranquil, the feeling grim.
A die-hard knows that memories unspool
Unendingly in the North Rotunda glass,
That the sideline prowled by Woody, Earle and Tress
Is studded by their harried and happy footfalls.
If your heart and mind are open, if you squint
Your eyes just right, then Buckeye Grove is lush
With All-American ghosts.  There’s George and Griffin
Reliving runs.  There’s Hopalong and Hawk
Comparing notes on beating that team up north.
The chants—O-H!—I-O! may well recede
When kickoff looms long months or weeks away,
But the cheers of the Buckeye faithful never die.

Comments Show All Comments

Hovenaut's picture

Appreciate the creativity, BPL...you paint a great picture. Most helpful as we await August.

Not sure or why the dv, evened things out....+1.

BuckeyePoetLaureate's picture

Someone downvoted my post?  Thanks for the +1...did I write something mean or offensive or something?

Proud alumnus of the Ohio State Creative Writing MFA Program.  Creator of the writing craft site Great Writers Steal.

Hovenaut's picture

You were down one as I started reading.

No, not all...not in my opinion. You're showing your spirit, fondness and respect for Buckeye football - past, present and future.

Last I checked, that's all good at 11W.

No worries, everyone gets a senseless dv here and there. At the end of the day we're all here for the same reason, or else there's no business being here at all.

Another +1 to you for good measure, thanks again for your post.

buckeye1129's picture

Don't dwell for even a second on that downvote; even on 11W, one of the last unspoiled sources of college sports news pertaining to OSU on the internet, the occasional classless clodhopper can be found dwelling in the darkest of corners.  They wait for such moments as this to rear their ugly head and place their stamp of disapproval on anything that challenges the bounds of their imagination and intellect.

Michibuck's picture

Well done, 1129.

Michibuck's picture

Add another +1. Still love that avatar.

dzig's picture

Here's my favorite poem.
Buckeyes are Red,
Skunk Weasels are Blue,
Beer tastes great ,
and Whiskey does too!!

"all men are created equal, it's just that some are MORE equal than others"

ATXbucknut's picture

The poem is taut and expectant, yet strangely palatable. Good stuff.
That's what I say about all classy stuff, mind you.  
Don't worry about the downvote, BPL. Trolls from TSUN and elsewhere in the Buckeye-hating universe stop by to administer senseless downvotes frequently to all of us. 
Thanks for the poem and keep them coming! It helps particularly in the off-season.

pjtobin's picture

Once again a great read. Thank you for sharing. Please keep them coming. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

buckeye1129's picture

Once again Kenneth, you provide us with a visually spectacular poem overrunning with substance.  And I admire how you can pull it off with a minimalist approach to wordiness and length.  Short and sweet, it puts me right in the middle of that field looking up at the seats and walls of the dormant giant, hearing whispers of Archie Griffin winning two Heisman Trophies, Eddie George running for 315 yards against Illinois, and Ohio State beating Michigan in 2006.  And yet the stadium has so much more to say, but so little time.  
It does all seem to get muddled with the echoes of the OH-IO chants of the previous season still reverberating throughout the darkest corners of the empty behemoth, while Hang On Sloopy can be heard ever so faintly, being carried by the wonderful midsummer breeze from the bowels of The Shoe to my ears, giving me chills as I lay against the cool grass (let's pretend, ok? haha).  I look up at the sky, and in the clouds I see visions of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler standing opposite one another as their teams enter into another battle of the Ten Year War.  A light snow falls on Woody's black cap, but he stands motionless and determined, watching his offense gain 3 yards on a first down run in the Power-I formation, collapsing in a cloud of dust as the UM defense staunchly defends their endzone.  But the year is 1968, and a win for the Buckeyes is simply meant to be.  As the wind shifts, Jim Tressel can be seen lifting a crystal ball, and a little farther on the clouds have transformed into a wonderful block 'O', directly over the 50 yard line, as if nothing else in the world could be placed at that location, whether on earth or in the heavens.  

+1 HS
buckeye1129's picture

This is the one time I wish I could upvote myself.  And when I say that, and fellas I hope you are listening, I REALLY f**king mean what I'm saying.  I have never said that before.  But I think that the descriptiveness of the writing which I so hesitantly displayed above is beyond my training as a future, boring, run of the mill corporate lawyer or whatever the hell I do with my joint doctorate of sociology and law degree once I finish.  I have been trained to write with about as much gusto and metaphorical language as a goddammed turtle is fast.
Anyways, I thought it was pretty good for my skill set.  I can talk circles around people, but I NEVER write shit like I did above.  Props to me.  ONLY TIME I WILL EVER SAY SOMETHING THAT GAY SO I HOPE YOU LOCKER ROOM SPANK BUDDOES ENJOYED IT.  
JK I love everybody on this site and you all know it.  I have 300 upvotes and 2, yes mother effin 2, downvotes since I joined 3 or 4 days ago.  I'm gunning for that 10,000 mark by the end of this year.  I love you guys.  Don't worry, I ain't drivin tonight fellas.  I feel too confident to do something that dumb.
And if I sound like a total dick/duesh/DickDuesch, then please give me the benefit of the doubt tonight and don't lay into my down arrow like hyenas attacking a carcass.  Celebrating a big family birthday tonight.  I don't remember that well, but I think they had beer there.

BuckeyePoetLaureate's picture

1129, I am pleased that you seemed to have such a great weekend.  For obvious reasons, you grabbed my attention with your comments about never really writing creatively.  Now, I am incredibly jealous of folks who have a "useful" degree, such as law and sociology; I love both of those fields, but chose to make no money, it seems.
But you and everyone else should remember that you CAN write...all you have to do is type it out or scratch the words onto a piece of paper, which you have done.  And as I hope I'm making clear, you can write about ANYTHING, not just "literary-type" stuff. 
You should be proud!  You've expressed your Buckeye pride by writing a first-person vignette about the "spirit" of Ohio State football that is always in our hearts.  You could move the words around a little, add in a title (something about Ohio Stadium having something to say) and you have a cool little piece.  There are a lot of great phrases in the writing, too.  You could arrange the words into poem form.  (Free verse doesn't require any meter, like I usually use.)
Look at what Buckeye MFA alum Letitia Trent does in her poem "After Maya Deren's 'At Land'".  Now, she is writing about a mid-century experimental film, not Buckeye football.  Look at one of her stanzas:

The sea beats
the woman's body, soundless
she turns with it, black
wall of foam crests and commas

Like you, she is describing the way something looks and feels and is using pretty language and metaphors to do so.
I love that this site has so many smart folks who talk about sports in such creative ways!  We all benefit from looking at the teams we love from different perspectives.

Proud alumnus of the Ohio State Creative Writing MFA Program.  Creator of the writing craft site Great Writers Steal.

buckeye1129's picture

The gut wrenching feeling of not belonging
Even amongst those who you cherish
Feeling as though the boundless negativities of this earth
will never cease to surprise me
However, from the darkness comes the sunrise
From pale blue, to orange, to a burning scarlet against thegray clouds
A rebirth of sorts
Am I whole? I cannot answer that myself
Time will tell.
For now, though, the memories of years gone by
help me through my darkest days.
Love ripped away like a spear through a heart.
But is the heart resilient enough to grow back?
Buckeye football is where my home is
I have no other home
I have no other choice
I enjoy the thrill of a close win
as if plummeting down a roller coater at 100 mph
then I look at my wonderful girlfriend
And everything may one day be whole again.
No matter how big a loss may be,
The love remains, defying the rules of space and time.
Love for a team. Love for a family. Love for a girl.
Love is what teaches you to laugh
and to cry harder than you ever have
But the heart grows stronger
And it never hurts to watch a game at the Shoe

buckeye1129's picture

Im sorry I don't know why i typed that.  You certainly do know how to motivate people, Kenneth.  I could envision you as an excellent teacher or professor.  Most likely professor, as receiving tenure will give you the time to publish countless volumes of poetry and stories.

buckeye1129's picture

Upvotes all around to the Buckeye Poet's Society.  Who needs a dead poet when we have one very good Buckeye poet and a few decent-to-good ones around here? Maybe I'll write another poem and not keep deleting it lol.  Kenneth keep this up, I think it's a lot of fun man. Thank you.

BeijingBucks's picture

wars may come and go
but my Buckeye Faithful never die
-what 2pac meant

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

MN Buckeye's picture

Nothing like a little iambic pentameter to close the evening.  
Thanks, BPL (although I always seem to want to call you PBR)

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Nice Poem.  I enjoyed reading this.

HighBallAce's picture

Next season we gotta get someone to write a poem titled, "The Days Till Kickoff" I'd do it but I'm just not that clever.