Category Archives: Baseball

Labor Days

drum machine turned scratch’um
beneath a rummaging overcast skyline
with a prolonged threat of rain
or contagious feelings,
sleeping now on tired feet
wrecked without a landing,
today we celebrate how hungover I feel
on my third day without drinking.

at the playground,
a group of black kids
chase each other around the fences,
a hide & seek of skinny bodies,
they hurl basketballs at each other,
and scream and push and scratch,
among side-armed throws in open space,
the orange leather whomping
against turned sides
against skinny asses.
an older boy
grips
a younger boy,
he has his knee planted
against the top
of the younger one’s spine.
another boy videotapes the hold

say that you’re gay,
the older one says,
what? ow
say you’re gay
no
say it
agggg i’m gay
say it
i’m gay
say that you like men
i like men
say that you’re a fairy
i’m a fairy, owwww
stop it, bitch. say that you
owww
say that you like balls in your mouth
i like balls
fucking say it
i like balls in my mouth.

they release him, cackling, running, whooping.
they immediately show the video to another young boy
he laughs with enthusiasm
even though
he had watched the whole altercation
the young boy is still sprawled out on the basketball court
he looks to be sniveling, crying, whimpering,
beaten
the perpetrator walks up next to him

are you crying?
if you’re crying, you’re a pussy
a fucking pussy

the wind picks up.
the small of their voices
getting muffled in the increasing rain
and the brick ends of my ball against the rim

statistics and boring persistent swells
the siren and songs of the alleys and avenues
the boy was playing possum,
he rises and stomps the perpetrator’s foot
a rising swell of clattering voices
they move like a group of birds dancing above a highway
and bring me to a bar
where an extra-innings ball game is on,
and my spritely friend,
confesses his faults and follies,
of which he has neither,
detailing the knees he’s planted into others,
and his immolation is interrupted,
by my slap dash assertions,
as i explain the difference
between 2-0 and 1-2,
and that the count is all that matters
the side arm throw vs. the overhand,
the geometry of space and the slot
a third key slipped under the drinking mat,
and a tangled, trodden voice breathes
from the corner pool table,
undeciperable, unknowable, fully cold,
resembling the voice
of the grandfather I never knew
or of one of the skinny-assed boys after sixty years
and fifty-thousand flicks into the street
return to me
draw to me
explain me like a painting
or a nostalgic bit of china
someone singled in, drawn and turn,
derelict in seat, mold, dirt, sugar
gas can blues
am I impossible to know
or merely impossible to fully see
is what the voice merges out as
and continues in and on and in
drawn out as more then a voice
a memory of a victimhood
you know me like my mother does
we look at each other like we were brothers
in more than just blood
our split fingered toes tied to the bar
as Gonzo rounds third
his labor like our shared labor.
our communal sweat
is a day named in full in its passing
not in its end.
my shoulders hug a bumper,
I whimper loud like the shaded figures own brother,
with his hood drawn
with my skinny ass forgetting
the orange leather still spinning in the nights
I think of the people I placed my knee on;
statistic and sirens
pushing against young rib cages
it’s all in the wrist
he doesn’t slide into home
he breezes through
and the wind rises soft now,
he nearly misses the base,
likely moving in his own prolonged sleep,
in need of the sweet god’s gas can doctor
or the deflated rubber chicken above the bar.
the batsmen, who became the runner,
starts his car in the stadium after the game
puts it in neutral and waits
for someone to put a knee to his neck
and make him say say
that he likes balls in his mouth.

Advertisements

The First Black Player in the Major Leagues

The first black player in the major leagues was not Jackie Robinson. The first was Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884, playing catcher for Toledo. Here is a choice anecdote about Walker from $40 Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden:

“In Toledo, Walker worked with a pitcher named Tony Mullane, who conceded that he did not like blacks, but admitted that he respected Walker’s ability and said he was the best catcher he had ever worked with. But Mullane refused to take signals from Walker, lest he allow a black man to be in a leadership capacity. “Walker was the best catcher I ever worked with…but whenever I had to pitch to him I used to pitch anything I wanted without looking at his signals. One day he signaled for me a curve and I shot a fast ball at him. He caught it and walked down to me. He said, ‘I’ll catch you without signals, but I won’t catch you if you are going to cross me when I give you signals.’ And all the rest of that season he caught me and caught anything I pitched without knowing what was coming.” The fact that catchers didn’t wear gloves in his day made Walker’s task all the more remarkable.”

(p 80-1)