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Baseball Poetry

Rube Waller, Pitcher (1899-1967)
By John Judson


  No leagues then.
  No attendance while men walked streets,
  jobs scarce as hits off Satchel.
  the one-time Baby Bull
  Good days were gone,
  so we barnstormed for gas, bed, and meals,
  until Jesse proved us with four medals,
  and Hitler had to leave the stands instead
  of having to pin them on. That
  was the bent way of a world we'd
  sailed to in holds, chained to walls
  and one another-which we learn
  and live with. Except
  on the field, when a new ball is
  unpacked, and a rosin bag plops in dirt,
  and your pure sweat starts to crown

aspiration and comic relief and curve.

  And you toe the rubber, take your look in,
  and throw the whole thing with a snap of
  fingers, and watch four seams grip air,
  bite that last black inch of plate and know
  no music goes with you like this
  all the distance.

JOHN JUDSON played ball from the late forties through the sixties for the Pittsfield Athletics in Maine, the Solon Pirates in Iowa, and the Seward Carriers (USAF) in Tennessee. His fiction, essays, and poems have appeared in such publications as The Southern Review, The Nation, The New York Times, Centennial Review, The Ohio Review, The North American Review, and Elysian Fields Quarterly. His latest book, The Inardo Poems, won the Posner Poetry Award and was named by the Wisconsin Library Association as one of the ten most notable books for 1997.

© 2000 John Judson


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