Class by Tim Love

Badminton players ignore all the floor’s circuitry but for the white lines. No soap operas for them, no quizzes about shop-names, no asking for your star sign. They support the arts, painting you posing with pitchforks like Neptune with his trident. They praise with pastorals your picturesque poverty, eat Ploughmans in solidarity, keep allotments, keep the score. So English.

They call shuttlecocks birdies. Birds are the only animals that you can hear sing. Maybe they sing what dinosaurs sang when beauty was anything they could eat. Maybe they were colourful too. Feathers would have helped with that, and kept them warm. Flying was a bonus. Their specialisation saved them from extinction.

The players live longer than other sports players. Football doesn’t lengthen life at all. The shuttlecock goes faster than any ball at first, soon reaching its terminal velocity, gravity taking over. They’ve tried plastic shuttles because they last much longer, but they’re not the same.

They say they love dialectic but they like your dialect more. They prepare to smash you. Their shoes squeak like budgies. Their racquets make the right noise when hit on their sweet spot. They want big sweet spots. They drop, slice, clear, but most of all they love disguise. They give you medals while they watch you die. They look deep into your eyes while they pass you. Of course they call it love, not zero.

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Unthology, etc. He blogs at

Photo by Frank Zhang