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Shagging Flies
By Tony Gloeggler

The last hour of light
slips behind the backstop.
My father stands at home plate.
I trot to the outfield,
stand with my legs spread
shoulder length apart.
Bent slightly at the waist,
I place my hands on my knees,
lean my weight forward
and wait for him to toss
the ball up, swing the bat.
Hit. The sound sings
in my skin. I take
that first cross-over
step, get my legs
in gear, track the ball
down. I catch it,
cradle it in the web,
peg it back on one hop.
Hit. The Mick sprints
to the base of the monuments,
makes a backhand stab,
pulls up with a limp.
Hit. Hit. Yaz turns
his back to the plate,
watches the line drive
dent the Green Monster.
He whirls, unfurls
a perfect strike
to second base, gets
the runner sliding in.
Hit. Hit. Ellen Springer's
seventh grade mouth
drifts down from heaven,
kisses my lips, slow
dances with my tongue.
Hit. Hit. Hit. I catch
my breath, lick sweat
off my upper lip. Hit.
Hit. Clemente charges
a hard hit single,
picks it up thigh high,
fires it home on a fly.
Hit. Aaron lopes back
to the warning track,
feels for the fence,
braces himself, leaps
and snatches the ball
out of a fan's hands.
Hit. A shooting star
falls, lands in my mitt.
I fling it back with all
my might, watch it grow
wings, fly and splash
the twilight with bright
white light. Hit. Hit. Willie
glides after a broken bat
blooper, loses his hat
to Candlestick winds,
catches the ball in his basket
and races my father home.



TONY GLOEGGLER's work has appeared in Mangrove, Puerto Del Sol, New York Quarterly, The Montserrat Review, Rattle, Graffit'i Rag, The Ledge, Rhino, and Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball. He was runner-up for the 1997 Paumanok Poetry Award, and named the winner of the 1998 Pearl Poetry Prize. His chapbook, One on One, was published in 1999 by Pearl Editions

© 2001 Tony Gloeggler


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