Posts Tagged ‘september’

Poems for September

Monday, September 1st, 2008

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Got Those Ballpark Blues

Hitters get scythed by their own bats,

runners stumble as in gopher holes,

our line-drives slam into their mitts

like berry-drunk birds into window panes,

our clean-up man’s entranced (streeek three!)

paralyzed like a bronze statue

by lust for a break-out slam,

and when we finally work a walk—

double-play, the purest cruelty, kills

hope just as it starts to grow, whacks

the sprouting dream before it fruits. 


Our guy’s two-strike pitches, low and

curved like beauty smiling open-lipped

are brutally murdered back up the middle.

Their foul tips skitter free,

ours buzz and die in the web.

Their pop-ups navigate beyond reach,

ours sail into gaping mitts.


The sun eats high flies and spews down

flaming meteorites to blind our fielders

who flail as if fending off vultures.

Umpires with the vision of rhinoceri

and every bit as ignorant and stubborn

charge around the field blowing calls

their way.


One of us must surely be a Jonah,

running from some sacred calling:

why else such misery? Find him,

throw him over! Trade the bum

and let him wreck some other team

or send him down until he lands

in a one-horse town

and never sees Double-A again.


Did someone hang his cap up backward,

open a gum pack from the wrong end,

lose the wad he chewed hitting that homerun

when his kid picked it off the headboard

and fed it to the schnauzer on the bed,

let his wife wash his lucky underwear,

forget to sign the cross before batting,

tie his shoes in the wrong sequence,

lose the only glove he’s ever loved,

sit on the wrong side of the plane,

shave or not shave (either way we’re screwed)?


Because dammit all there’s got to be some reason

we’ve been stuck in this slump the whole season.


©2008, Dan Liberthson, from The Pitch is on the Way: Poems About Baseball and Life


Dad Eats a Hardboiled Egg


He cradles it with thick fingers egg-cup shaped,

admires it for a long moment, pale blue eyes

struggling for focus behind thick lenses,

turns it carefully counterclockwise, passing

its seemingly uniform surface before his gaze

as though he alone can see difference there,

a range of snowy mountains and fertile valleys

in this perhaps the only egg left, a world

within a world bereft. His orbit around the egg

now complete, he steadies and carefully

starts to crack it, turning the oval

and rapping it deftly on the table edge

at regular mathematical intervals

he of all his family has discovered

or had passed down to him

by his parents’ parents and beyond.

Appraising the web of cracks, he nods

as though he and his egg have found

the answer to a tough question,

the key that fits the lock of the door

to the future. Now he disrobes the egg,

studiously peeling it naked, stroking clean

of shell shards the smooth uncovering skin

with his tobacco-stained fingers,

careful not to blemish the white sheen.

Lips slightly parted, tongue touching their curves,

breathing slow and shallow, he appreciates

the full being of the egg, ovoid promise

of a small pleasure he learned to cherish

through hungry years on the Lower East Side,

of which he said the only blessing was learning

to enjoy the simplest things. Now he may be thinking,

two of these end to end make infinity, but I am happy

with this finite joy, this single egg.


Then those blunt strong fingers shape themselves

around the tapered hexagonal salt shaker

with its familiar dented metal head,

and the right hand lifts it toward the left.

His startlingly sharp tongue

snakes out as he bows his head to lick the left hand

(firmly holding the egg in its fist) at the cleft

between the thumb and index finger.

He raises his head and shakes an exact measure

of salt onto the wet spot as if ending a ritual dance.

Again he pauses, solemn, expectant gaze

worshipping the unspoiled surface, and in

the unifying silence of that moment

I recall him saying, before the meal began,

All work is sacred, even menial labor,

and the reward of a job well done

is to eat your food with peace in your heart,

knowing you are entitled.


Dad sighs, ahhhhh,

lightly smacks his lips, raises his hand

to lick the salt and then at last

bites through the wall of the chamber of paradise

clear to the yellow sun within, with such a light of joy

spilling from his eyes that even twelve years gone

it warms me still.


©2006, Dan Liberthson, from A Family Album