Sorry / Not Sorry

I have been on my deathbed, / and I’m not stupid. / I can emphatically say, / I am not on drugs.

Found poems

Image by Steven Nehl, for the Oregonian.

Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion: The Poetry of Sportstalk, featuring poems “pieced together from the words of professional athletes,” will be coming out this month from Featherproof Books. This is an excerpt.


Lance Armstrong

I have been on my deathbed,
and I’m not stupid.
I can emphatically say,
I am not on drugs.

I do not take performance-enhancing drugs.
Why would I enter into a sport
and then dope myself up
and risk my life again?
That’s crazy.
I would never do that.
No way.

I have never doped.
I can say it again,
but I’ve said it for seven years.
How many times do I have to say it?
Well, it can’t be any clearer than
“I’ve never taken drugs.”

As long as I live, I will deny it.
There was absolutely no way
I forced people,
encouraged people,
told people,
helped people,
facilitated. Absolutely not.
One hundred percent.

We are completely innocent.
The simple truth
is that we outwork everyone.

If you’re trying to hide something,
you wouldn’t keep getting away
with it for ten years.
Never failed a test.
I rest my case.


Allen Iverson

It’s easy to sum it up when you just talk about Practice. We sitting here—I supposed to be the franchise player—and we in here talking about Practice. I mean, listen, we talking about Practice. Not a game, not a game. Not a game. We talking about Practice. Not a game. Not a, not a, not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talking about Practice, man. I mean, how silly is that when we talking about Practice? I know I supposed to be there. I know I supposed to lead by example. I know that. And I’m not, I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important. I do, I honestly do. But we talking about Practice, man. What are we talking about? Practice? We talking about Practice, man. We talking about Practice. We talking about Practice. We ain’t talking about the game. We talking about Practice, man. When you come in the arena and you see me play, you see me play, don’t you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talking about Practice right now. We talking about Prac—. Man, look, I hear you. It’s funny to me, too. It’s strange, it’s strange to me, too. But we talking about Practice, man. We not even talking about the game, the actual game. When it matters. We talking about Practice. How the hell can I make my teammates better by Practicing?


Tiger Woods

I’m the one who did those things:
Chase a little white ball around and work on my farmer’s tan.
But you strip away the denial, the rationalization,
You become disgusting.
I tried to stop and I couldn’t stop.
If you keep doing that each and every year
You’re going to have one heck of a career.
I absolutely killed it, but I didn’t know if it carried or not.
All you do is stay alive.
I’m trying to win every tournament I play.
I’ve always wanted to dye my hair blond.
As far as a burden on my life,
I’m trying to become a better person, each and every day.
I don’t have any more shots to play. I’m done.


Tonya Harding (ft. Nancy Kerrigan)

I would like to begin by saying
how sorry I am
about what happened to Nancy Kerrigan.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed
to think that anyone close to me
could be involved.

I just ask forgiveness.
She has her life
and I have my life.

Everybody has bad days
and I guess both her
and I had bad days.

I know what I’m capable of
and I hope everyone here in this room
knows what I’m capable of.

If you want to get rid of me—
it isn’t going to happen.

Somebody wants to know
something about me
they should ask me themselves.

Everybody out there to me
is basically the same.
If I have something on my mind

I’ll say it.
I don’t ever hold back
on anything.

that gets me into trouble,
but most of the time it doesn’t.

I never get to talk about this stuff.


I’m not the picture-perfect
type of girl
or whatever.

I quit school my sophomore year.
I didn’t have boyfriends;
I didn’t really have any friends.

I worked as an assistant manager
at a restaurant and I skated.
That’s all I had.

Those became pretty
dark days for me.
Still are.

Falling in love with skating was the challenge,
I guess.

I had everything on the line and I
did it.

I was basically perfect.
Everybody else made mistakes.
I didn’t make any mistakes.

That was my year.
You just know the feeling.
I can’t describe the feeling

of how it felt.
There was people standing up
giving me a standing ovation.

For the very first time,
I just knew:
I knew I was the best.

That was the best I’ve ever been.


My sister, when she was thirteen
she ran away from home
and became a streetwalker.

And now she’s living in Hawaii
or something like that
with some Chinese guy.

I’m really different from my brother
because he used to steal a lot of things
and he still does.

He’s like my mom.
My relationship with my mom is really bad.
She’s a good mother

but she’s not a good mother.
She hits me and she beats me
and she drinks.

She left me with my father.
She didn’t want me. She told him,
“I don’t want her, you take her.”

I just had enough of my life,
of being beat up, put down,
telling me that I’m not going

to amount to anything in my life.
I was told that my whole entire life
by my mother.

I just had enough. It was horrible.
Finally they gave in
because I was crying.

I wanted to be
the first woman
to ever do something.

And now I have nothing.


I’ve tried to put the past behind me
And now today I feel like
I can start a fresh new life.

Everything that’s happened to me
has made me into
who I am today.

If you don’t like who I am today,

Look at me:
I’m a female boxer.

Whether people boo me
or cheer me
it doesn’t matter.

I’m done with that. I’m taking care of me.
I’m not an educated woman.
This is my whole life.

There’s been a couple of times
where maybe I shouldn’t
have been here anymore.

You just gotta keep going.
That’s what life is, I guess.
It’s all a game.
It’s all fake.

It doesn’t matter what I do,
I know I was the best—
at one point.

Until I die,
and even after I’m dead,
people are still going to make money

because my name is Tonya Harding.

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