Denise Ervin

Game On

“The game is on.”

The phrasing is ambiguous.

Basketball, baseball, hockey…

the format matters less than the words;

my father’s feeble attempt

to find masculinity in his baby girl,

to connect with the son he never had

in the daughter that always wanted to please him.

This is what love sounds like:


not raised voices

punctuated by slamming doors,

parenthesized by contrariness

and bubbling over with enough tears to trouble still waters.

We don’t wallow or wade;

we build a bridge

with offensive lines

and defensive strategies.

This is what love is made of.



we have prepared a revolution

in the form of a touchdown.

Our anthem is a fight song.

We pad our vigor with vim,

turn victory into the standard

by which all things life are measured.

We converse through competition.

This is the language love speaks.


We approach home plate, half court,

and any opposition

with the same level of confidence.

This is where we score.

This is where we win.

This is where we prove we are the strongest, the fastest, the best.

This is how we love…

No matter who judges, or scoffs, or misunderstands,

our game is always on.

Denise R. Ervin in a creative writer hewn from the streets, classrooms, and boardrooms of the city of Detroit. Formally educated in both literature and business, she works in corporate America by day and as an adjunct college professor at night. Her work focuses on the experiences of those who look, live, and love like her and she has spent more than a decade supporting local open mics in addition to crafting full-length novel projects. Most recently, Denise has been working on elevating the performance of her writing and has become active in slam competition. Her poetry chapbook (A Glimpse of My Soul) and novel (Prelude to Praise: A Word of Testimony) can both be found on