The Essence of the Game

by Karlo Sevilla

Photo by Jason Thibault via Flickr. Creative Commons: Some rights reserved.

They dribble somebody’s skull
up and down the hardcourt:

The prized bouncing orb –
shaven, scalped, effaced –
changes hands among men
of two contending teams.

They hustle for possession,
and anyone who holds it,
when open and free
of jealous guards,
shoots the dry-skinned sphere
into mouth of iron agape.

Fanatic spectators erupt into frenzy
with every swish
into their inner circle
(and subside to a hush
when it sinks
into the others’).

The real gladiator
has long fallen, though,
decapitated skeleton
buried somewhere

But he remains in the arena,
and a thousand fans
bear witness to his head
dribbled on the hardcourt.



Karlo Sevilla writes from Quezon City, Philippines and is the author of two poetry collections: “Metro Manila Mammal” (Soma Publishing, 2018) and “You” (Origami Poems Project, 2017). He was a runner-up in Submittable’s 2018 National Poetry Month poetry contest and one of his poems is nominated by Ariel Chart for the 2018 Best of the Net Anthology. His poems have appeared in Philippines Graphic, Radius, Eclectica, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Ramingo’s Porch, and others. He currently studies for the Sertipika sa Panitikan at Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino (Certificate in Literature and Creative Writing in Filipino) program of the Center for Creative Writing of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

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