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Slam Dunk & Hook

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Basketball isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. It requires you to push yourself again and again and not give up until the final buzzer sounds. Basketball requires a lot of teamwork and that team is like your family. Working together like a family helps push every player to do their best and make each other proud. In the poem “Slam Dunk & Hook” the author Yusef Komunyakaa uses metaphors, allusions, and imagery to illustrate basketball which offers escape and triumph for the players. The metaphor “Muscles were a bright motor” is used to accentuate how strongly the basketball players muscles were functioning on the court. The author put an emphasis on this because he wanted to let the reader know that the players were working extremely hard for the sport they love. “He played nonstop, all day so hard/ our backboard splintered,” the death of Sonny Boy’s mom was a tragedy for not only Sonny Boy but the whole team. Due to the death, the basketball court was an escape for the players. “Trouble/ was there slapping a blackjack/ against an open palm,” misfortune was a part of the players difficulties which allows them to play tremendously hard and push their body beyond the limit. The basketball players get rid of their stress on the backboard of the court.

The allusions “With Mercury’s/ insignia,” “Labyrinth our bodies,” “Like storybook sea monsters” show that the players really have their head in the game. The reference to Mercury, the Roman messenger, starts as a reference to the logo on the players shoes and leads to showing the reader that these players have so much magic in them that were able to control everything they do and preform each task with perfection. “In the roundhouse/ labyrinth our bodies,” Komunyakaa is telling the reader that the players bodies are mazes and it is difficult for the opponents to find a way out and score on them. He is also referring to the lay ups the players perform and their aptitude to stay up. The allusion “We could almost/ last forever, poised in midair/ like storybook sea monsters” is describing how swiftly the basketball players rheostat their footwork. They are able to out maneuver “the bad angels”, who are the opponents on the court, and do better than them in every way. In the poem Komunykaa describes the shots the players made as being swift and beautiful.

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