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Baseball Poetry

I Wanna Be Like Moe Berg
By Frank Van Zant


Let me be third-string catcher, paid
to talk talk in the bullpen.
Put me in the game
but only after the pitchers have all pinch hit and
played the OF, only after the second-string catcher
has been hurt, really hurt
(but first let me speak
to him, convince him we can't win without him)
Keep me
on the cloister of the bench, but let me leave the stadium
early, browse bookstores, talk to a French cabby
about Norman dialects.
Let me read
my foreign newspapers in the bullpen, and you may not
touch them, these divinations of world coin.
Let me live for free in your home
for weeks at a time, let me peek over the window-sill
of your conversations, let my charm and stories pay
for dinner, for new clothes lent from your closet,
a cab ride downtown.
But when you see me later
on the street, let me pass silently:
I'll say SHHH to you,
one finger over my mouth like a cave stone, so secretive,
you'll be sure I'm a spy, I'll earn
a law degree and never use it, learn
all the languages I can, then hold the words in, be intimate
with you and you will never know me.
I will be so anonymous, everyone will recognize me.


FRANK VAN ZANT is an award-winning teacher of near-dropouts, coach of two high school sports, and father of three. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and semifinalist at Discovery/The Nation. His first book, The Lives of the Two-Headed Baseball Siren, is due out this year from Kings Estate Press.

© 1999 Frank Van Zant


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