For the Old Pierre

Photo by Jim Bahn on Flickr

Photo by Jim Bahn on Flickr

Word has been out for some time that Pierre the Pelican, the NBA’s and possibly the world’s scariest mascot, will be getting a facelift in time for the All-Star Game in New Orleans. I guess when a mascot is “too scary for children to embrace,” then you’ve got a PR problem. But I and many others will miss the old, terrifying Pierre, so I’ve (very) lightly adopted James Dickey’s superlative poem, “For the Last Wolverine,” into an ode to Pierre.


For the Old Pierre

They will soon be down

To one, but he still will be
For a little while    still will be stopping

The children in the stands with a look,
Surrounding himself with the silence
Of whitening snarls. Let him eat
The last red meal of the condemned

To extinction, tearing the guts

From an opposing team’s mascot. Yet that is not enough
For me. I would have him eat

The heart, and, from it, have an idea
Stream into his gnawing head
That he no longer has a thing
To lose, and so can walk

Out into the open, in the full

Pale of the New Orleans sun
Where a single Southern live oak is dying

Higher and higher. Let him climb it
With all his meanness and strength.
Lord, we have come to the end
Of this kind of vision of heaven,

As the sky breaks open

Its fans around him and shimmers
And into its southern gates he rises

Snarling    complete    in the joy of a bird of prey
With Bango’s horned heart in his stomach
Looking straight into the eternal
Blue, where he hauls his kind. I would have it all

My way: at the top of that tree I place

Harry the Hawk
Hunched in mangy feathers    giving

Up on the theory of flight.
Dear God of the wildness of in-arena enterainment, let them mate
To the death in the rotten branches,
Let the tree sway and burst into flame

And mingle them, crackling with feathers,

In crownfire. Let something come
Of it    something gigantic    legendary

Rise beyond reason over marshes
And swamps    SCREAMING    that it cannot die,
That it has come back, this time
On wings, and will spare no earthly thing:

That it will hover, made purely of southern

Heat, at dusk    and fall
On men wearing replica jerseys: will perch

On the Benny the Bull’s horns like a falcon
Riding into battle    into holy war against
Screaming Laker fans: will pull
Whole boards like toothpicks from the hardwood

In the long-jawed night of Miami Heat fans.

But, small, filthy, unmasked,
You will soon be crouching

Alone, with maybe some dim racial notion
Of being the last, but none of how much
Your unnoticed going will mean:
How much the timid fan needs

The mindless explosion of your rage,

The glutton’s internal fire    Bango’s
Heart in the belly, sprouting wings,

The pact of the “blind swallowing
Thing,” with himself, to eat
The world, and not to be driven off it
Until it is gone, even if it takes

Forever. I take you as you are

And make of you what I will,
Pigeon-eater, nightmare, bloodthirsty


                                        Lord, let me die    but not die


James Dickey reads “For the Last Wolverine,” circa 1969:

Steve McPherson

Steve McPherson is an editor for Hardwood Paroxysm and his writing has appeared at Grantland, Rolling Stone, A Wolf Among Wolves, The Cauldron, TrueHoop, Complex, Narratively, Polygon and elsewhere. His Twitter handle is @steventurous.