More Poems for July

Bench Player

It’s long past bedtime

but that’s half the delight—

tented in my blanket,

crackling radio at my ear

as the Rochester Red Wings

(Minor League, but mine)

play the Triple-A World Series.

Shetrone, Powell, Valentine,

these names are spells to me,

conjure silhouettes alive

against the blanket’s weave, powered

by streetlight rays and waves of applause

trapped in my transistor like ocean in a shell.

Clean-up hitter swings, and my blood

sings along the arc, rocking heart

pounding ribs as bat on ball cracks

and I leave my body to follow,

rise through the cool night,

evade opposing mitts and land

free and fair in the right-field grass.

Coming back, we rise like the red horse

that wings over trees and fields,

Pegasus, my dream mount, invincible

as long as I keep just the right pressure

on the radio speaker with my thumb:

too little or too much and the sound

smashes like a waterfall on rocks.

Out in the night the pitcher winds

and speeds the ball in, but my grip

bends its path, forces it to the bat:

mind power surges through my fingers

to shape the game the Red Wings’ way.

Bottom of the ninth and the count is full,

hold your breath, think home, and PRESS.

From “The Pitch is on the Way: Poems About Baseball and Life”

by Dan Liberthson, ©2008


Poet Shows Young Nephew the High Sierra

Truly, it was a tarn,

a word nearly as lovely

as the banked Alpine hills

around bluedark waters

deepening the sky, the trees

more piercingly rooted,

much more steep,

crownside down

than trunkside up.

You were skipping young

across the felled pines, leaping

astonishing distances rock

to rock

as if you knew no weight,

no care for the water,

icecold, sinking below.

You gave a wild wave,

shouted come on old man!

laughed as the echoes died.

Not yet, I muttered, not old yet

but at the first long gap

hips locked tight,

thighs gave way,

and I was alone

with my reflections,

the only world where I

could still leap agile,

thought to thought.

The depth of that tarn

dwelt more luminous live

than any shifting or rooted

upper world: jays flashing,

clouds shaping,

trees impeccably upright,

sky filling the shores,

each caught and held

undiminished in depth

long after upper

passing.

There you were again—

suddenly as if risen

from the actual water

or landed from the sky—

your face, your trunk

beside mine in both worlds.

This is so cool, I love this,

you and yourself blurted out.

Yes, I said, have you noticed

how much more vivid the reflected

world is than the real one?

You could live and die in there.

Sure, Uncle Dan, and fish can fly

up here, but what I want to know is

where can we get a good cheeseburger?

From “A Family Album” by Dan Liberthson, ©2006

Listen to the podcast (audio) for More Poems for July:

http://www.liberthson.com/audio/MorePoemsForJuly.mp3

 
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