Poetry immobilized: The best of the verse on RGIII’s knee

John Kelly
Columnist January 14, 2013

Helen of Troy had a face that launched a thousand ships. Robert Griffin III has a knee that launched a thousand tweets.

And not just tweets, also: angry barroom tirades, letters to the editor, columns, sports talk radio phone calls, whispered prayers and Sunday sermons. The RGIII Knee has been the subject of near-endless chatter in the District. It’s possible more people in town care about his LCL than their own LDL.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Readers responded to my invitation to immortalize the twisted joint in verse. Some readers chose the spare form of a haiku:

A knee bends backward
Quarterback hysteria
A city’s anguish.
Bob Dardano, Washington

Washington Post columnist Jason Reid talks about his conversation with Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan and describes why he thinks Shanahan should have benched Robert Griffin III in the Redskins’ loss to the Seahawks. (The Washington Post)

Bending awkwardly
Wherefore art thou RG-Knee
One half too many
Ken McVearry, Dewitt, N.Y.

RG III must learn
Take care of your knees when young
Old knees get revenge
Bob Lalush, Rockville

Ripped from the headlines

Some poems had the immediacy of a news report, reminding me of Froissart’s Chronicles.

He crumpled into FedEx dirt
(The field we love, which others hate),
And out he went, two quarters late,
His knee, the game — and next season — hurt.
Lisa Goenner, Bethesda

News alert from TOP
What can it be?
Attack at sea?
World War Three?
Nope — some player’s knee!
Roslyn Lang, Bethesda

RGIII messed up his knee
(Any child could plainly see)
Near the end of Quarter 1;
After that, his day was done.
Had we other options? Dozens!
Anyone remember Cousins?
All the world saw Griffin hurt;
Thus our game plan hit the dirt.
Gotta wonder now if Shanny
Should be landing on HIS fanny.
Nan Reiner, Alexandria

Waxing lyrical

Several readers wrote poems that were more like lyrics, best enjoyed when sung to a familiar melody. Sandy Tenenbaum of Silver Spring set these lines to the tune of “Love Me Tender”:

Just how stupid can you be
Just to win a game.
Now he’s out for quite a while
And you have all the shame.
Mike Shanahan, we count on you
To keep him here forever
Now RGIII is hurting bad
See, you’re not so clever.

Cliff Brownstein of North Potomac suggests that you imagine his poem to the tune of “My Country ’Tis of Thee”:

RGIII hurt his knee,
Can’t use arthroscopy,
It’s torn so bad.
Coach kept him in too long,
Team may have done him wrong,
Just hope it’s not his swan song,
Skins’ fans so sad.

This little ditty by Washington’s Kenneth McLeod benefits from being sung lustily to the tune of “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha”:

To dream, a superior team
To push, an anterior woe
To bend, and to tear from the marrow
A knee, where it’s not meant to go

To limp, on a leg that looks wrong
After chased, both from near and from far
To coach, when RG is too weary
To breach the unhealable scar

This was our plan, to get where we are
This season was golden, it was “so good, so far”
To go for more gauze, without question or pause
To be willing to run him to death, at the sound of applause
And we know, sentiments will stay true
To this glorious quest,
Ligaments, and fans won’t come unglued
In his off-season rest

Then the world once again will say this:
That one man that we will push too far
We drove, till his last ounce of yardage,
To breach . . . the unhealable scar!

Homer, where are you?

Mary Costabile of Chevy Chase titled her poem “A Hero’s Saga.” I think she should expand it to epic length:

’Mid threats of war and retribution
Reminders dire, nature’s confusion
Our focus here is clear to see
We’re all concerned with RGIII

It’s rare to have such proof of valiance
’Cause even those where football’s dalliance
Have learned about the fractious joint
Let’s face it, folks, that’s not the point

We’ve watched our hero fall to ground
For one last time not to rebound
Enough about the various blames
Let’s hope he’s in next season’s games

Finally, Mae Scanlan of the District isn’t thinking about winter. She’s dreaming of the boys of summer:

Football is a contact sport
Of a somewhat vicious sort.
When a knee or elbow shatters,
This is not a GAME. It MATTERS.
Breaks, concussions, wounds with sutures,
These foul up the players’ futures.
Smashed -up bodies — what a shame;
Give me baseball. THERE’S a game!

Tomorrow: More poetry/ about the Knee? / Just wait and see!

Twitter: @johnkelly

To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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