’86

I spent the summer
rounding the bases
in my slow ambling
gait, less than the team’s
linchpin, more like a
horse shot in one leg.

I’d love to tell you
a long lie, that I
called for a pick off,
gunned down a runner,
laid down some sweet bunt
or hit a home run.

But I spent summer
counting the daisies
and humming, batta
batta k, batta
batta k, hey swing
batta swing batta!

In the rising heat
I’d parse the pages
of the Times Union
to gauge precisely
how many games up
the New York Mets were.

On the ballfield
I’d stand at home, hold
the bat straight and lock
my elbow to mime
Gary Carter. I,
too, missed the fast balls.

When loping strokes off
Strawberry’s bat shot
June and July past
left center field,
the Big Red Apple
would pop-up and glow.

We spent the season
plantooning second
and third base. Wally
Backman, Tim Teufel,
Howard Johnson, Ray
Knight. Left, Right, Left, Right.

By early August
the National League
East was all sewn up,
twenty games in first
and we looked to fall
for a sweet harvest.

My mom lived and died
in Beantown, the green
monster, envious
of all those title
reigns, since that famed trade,
locked up in the Bronx.

And lo’ the Angels.
If fate had a sense
of humor, if not
for Hendu’s homer,
then nothing of the
tragedy to be.

October, the ‘Stros
rode out of the west
on Nolan Ryan
and Mike Scott’s right arms,
into the waiting
arms of Flushing, Queens.

I spent the playoffs
in orange and blue,
popping popcorn and
taunting my mother
after each night’s game
with the morning news.

On the field I
wore number eight, felt
the crack of the bat
and flew unthinking
to pull in long bombs
and hit the cut-off.

The ball cued the bat
and puttered spinning

down the first base line.
Mom jumped up to cheer

and in a moment
all the air left her.

We spent the winter
in glaring silence.

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