For my friend Rose R., with sincere condolences.

Good Lord, imagine my bad luck:
I’m married to a hockey puck.
I don’t know how it came about—
A lover morphed into a lout!
You’re a widow, not a wife,
When hockey is your husband’s life.
In his world, only one thing’s holy:
To get hard rubber past a goalie.
He’s in a bar or at the rink
Explaining why the Rangers stink,
And when at last he gets back here,
Awash in stats and lager beer,
He won’t help out with household chores
But only thinks of hockey scores,
And sits down in his easy chair
To face the TV set and stare
In unrelenting rapt attention.
If I so much as try to mention
Some other subject, he’s enraged,
And screams, “Not now! I am engaged!”

Alas, I can remember when
He had a different kind of yen.
In those days, when he thought of “scoring”
It was with me, and we went soaring
Up orgasmic heights of bliss.
Now? Forget it—he won’t miss
A sports report or single play.
I lie there in my lingerie
Drenched in scent and looking hot.
Does he notice? He does not.
I recall some torrid nights
When he and I turned down the lights.
The steam that rose up from our sheets
Would rival Casanova’s heats.
He didn’t think of ice or skates
When we were on those early dates.
He played a different kind of game
With me, his one and only dame.
He wielded something hard and thick,
And I don’t mean a hockey stick.



Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide.  He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.

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11 Responses

  1. Panagiota Romios

    What a humorous pen for Valentine’s Day!
    Alas, poor Rose! I could feel her frustration.
    And~ languishing for a torrid past.
    Your humor is outstanding. Those last two lines,
    marvelously, earthy, to put it mildly,
    Will share with others. A delight!

  2. Margaret Coats


    Heht mec mon wunian on wuda bearwe,
    under actreo in tham eorthscraefe.

    From the Old English Wife’s Lament, where the man sends his woman to dwell in eorthscraefe, a cave or grave.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Well, Margaret, I hope that my poem isn’t as lugubrious as that Anglo-Saxon lament!

      • Margaret Coats

        Quite different in tone, but the dramatic situation has clear parallels. You put the mournfulness in the first half of the poem and recall prior bliss in the last, whereas the Anglo-Saxon woman brings in a happy line or two every now and then in her mostly woeful composition. Your speaker seems to be as hopeless as she, but you found a way to keep up the readers’ spirits.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    I have found, Joseph, that many hockey lovers love little else. For most American men, however, the prepossessing object of their love is football. Fortunately, my wife also enjoys (or appears to enjoy) that rough-and-tumble contact sport, especially when our local New England team is in the mix. Now that Tom Brady has defected, things might change. For her at least. I admit it: I like watching football, because it is closest thing we have to the Roman games (except, perhaps, for MMA events).

    The illustration at the top is perfect!

  4. Frank De Canio

    So now, Joseph, your protagonist went from hockey to baseball. At least he can get on base and come home with that sport. Wonderfully done!

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Joe S., ‘The Wife’s Lament’ is a highly entertaining poem that’s a masterclass in humorous poetry. The smooth flow of the language and the superb rhymes make it a treat to read aloud, and build perfectly to the cheeky punchline ~ but, you already know that. 😉 Thank you for my Valentine’s Day giggle!

  6. David Watt

    Whether it’s a hockey stick, or a cricket bat equivalent here in Australia, your concluding couplet is a ripper. Thanks for the perfect rhymes and numerous laughs.


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