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Faith Mar 2020
Mamba
impossibly human
the bite, the strike, the temperament
When threatened, the mamba comes out
Strike, strike, strike, strike
The mamba is relentless
His venom coursing through the veins
Of his foolish challengers
His coal black eyes, hungry
Defeating, intimidating, vicious
The mamba bite is always fatal
For he has no antivenin to defeat him
No mortal power can wither him
To the dust
Strike, strike, strike, strike
The common name of the snake
Is given to no common man
Only the name of the fastest, most protective, most aggressive,
Tallest, biggest, lethal-est snake
Belongs to the man with the biggest, lethal-est presence
Strike, strike, strike, strike
Formidable anywhere he is placed
Strike, strike, strike, strike
The crown of the kingdom sits
Comfortably atop his temples
Strike, strike, strike, strike
How fitting
The world’s deadliest player
Be called after
The world’s deadliest snake
In loving memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi
Antino Art Feb 2020
Dear Basketball,

Why am I not six foot six.

If I could reach just a little higher,
I would score you with ease.

We’d make a winning team.

You’d be my world
spinning on the tip of my finger.
We’d shoot for the moon
night-in and night-out,
with no fear of falling
because your gravity
is the force that
grounds me.

We’d have a bounce to our step:
you striking the pavement
like a war drum and me
walking on air
with my head in the clouds
of Southern California.

We'd turn soaring
over expectations
into a high art.

Imagine this: the first
sub-six-foot Asian minority
in the NBA
wins the MVP!

And they would pay us!  
Never mind the money.
We'll earn a wealth of respect.
We'll command conundrums.
Coaches across the league would
call us a problem and
scratch their heads drawing
up defensive formulas on white boards
named after us.

I realize that’s a long shot.
I'm taking it.

You won’t even see me flinch

even if you did hit me
between the eyes
and broke my nose
on that inbound play,
I’d grin
in the face of the opponent

like how my four-year-old girl
handled pneumonia in a hospital bed,
I will emerge from any cold spell
with child-like hope
and a Gigi-like game face,
jaws jutting out

Because adversity
is what brings out greatness
and struggle
is what proves you
are still alive.

I could be trailing
by 20 for an entire game

I could have zero points,
but no doubts
that the next shot is going in.

I'm taking it.

Even if it means
fading away
into the darkness
over multiple hands
outstretched with
our goal that is the basket
nowhere to be seen

I'd throw my hopes and fears
into the wind for you,
regardless of what the defense throws back.

If basketball is a religion,
then I am a devout practitioner,
putting up prayers from behind the arc

And when things don't bounce our way,
I won't blame you.

Defeat reveals what you're
fundamentally made of,
so I will work on my form:
fingers along your grooves,
toes pointed ahead,
follow through.

I will work on my endurance:
hustle beats skill any day

I will work on passing you
and the wisdom you bring
to the next generation,
so they can score whatever it is
they dream

I will work to give my daughter
the best possible shot

I will lead by example.

Championships come and go:
what we are working towards
will last forever

And guess what, Basketball?
I will still be far from six foot six,
making it very hard to play you well.

That’s no excuse.
That just means I will practice dribbling low
to the ground and moving
like a shadow beneath their feet.

No one can guard
what they can't see coming:
we'll fly under the radar.

I'd give you the best of me
to let you bring out
the beast in me:
an apex predator
with a forked tongue
through bared fangs
and black skin thick as
battle armor

No amount of hisses and boos
can block our shot.

We'd go the distance,
crossing over
into the unknown and
through whatever
physical and emotional
contact comes next

I will hit the floor for you,
rise up
and sink my free throws
on a limp.

If I needed 81 points
to win you over,
I’d bring back each one
in an autographed bucket,
even if it takes 82 games to do it.

We could spend a long,
loosing season together,
and I would still wake up at 4 a.m.
to see you
in an empty gym,
while dawn turns the sky
from purple into gold.  

I’d savor every drop
of sweat the comes from
running back and forth
for miles in your shoes
between your two bottomless baskets.

I don't care how tall I am.
We are chasing the footsteps of
immortal giants,
if only to write our own legends
that will never die.

Even if I had just 24 seconds
to do it,
I’d spend every last one
believing in miracles.

It’s a long shot,
but together,
we can’t miss.

Long Live You,
Your Number One Fan

— The End —