i don’t remember when i first heard or read about religions, but it was interesting to discover that life possibly had meaning, that it was more than merely here today and gone tomorrow and that my great grandpa Leonard might be in heaven or reincarnated. i went to the library and looked up religions and the first book i came across was one called ‘religions of man’ by huston smith, a paperback, not too big, about the size of a 4×6 notecard, but it was thick, lots of pages and i carried that thing around and was pretty rough with it. i think i was reading the chapter on hinduism when the author said something about being all-knowing and i thought that was pretty cool, to know everything, to know the first starting pitcher to pitch 500 innings in a season because fast or slow, curve or straight, that’s gotta hurt the arm and also i thought it would be cool to know the third baseman for the tigers and the lineup of every major league team so i read about hindu gods and then made it to buddhism and i put a beach towel on my apartment bedroom floor and meditated or tried to, but most of the time my back slouched and i was thinking about stupid shit like what the people i knew thought about me and go figure, it didn’t do a damn thing. all that studying hindu gods and meditating and still, i couldn’t remember the third baseman for the tigers and so i gave up my desire to be all-knowing and settled on a normal life of ups and downs. but i did buy a baseball magazine and found out that the third baseman for the tigers was scott livingstone. He played 98 games in 1993. i felt like i was on my way…
Tag Archives: prose poem
a milwaukee trespass
the nurse was Mrs. Z. and she never told us what the Z stood for and we never asked. Her little dispensary was beside our elementary school’s main exit, the “BIG EXIT” as we called it because when you walked through those doors, the day was done. she wasn’t trained as a nurse. the school was probably saving money. she was small, freddie patek small, maybe five feet. looked like a cute old mouse. she had good, minty breath, made you wanna be near her. we pretended to be sick or intentionally scraped our elbow at recess to draw a little blood and if we managed to make it past the initial border crossing – the teacher and reach Mrs. Z’s little room with the turquoise-colored dentist chair, then we had made it…..and ‘made it’ meant a get out of jail free card, a walk through the BIG EXIT and a stroll home, a short 20-40 minute walk and all afternoon to play some video games, sort some baseball cards, or do whatever us kids liked to do when we were pretending to be sick.
an atheist bows down
Laramie Lou slipped out of bed, stood up, faced east, and chanted, “If Hack Wilson can drive in 191 RBI’s in a single season, then I can be happy today. It was a ritual he did, but not by rote, because the feat changed every waking day, from most HBP to fewest walks per nine and yet, still no happiness for Laramie Lou. And then it got even worse, there were no words, nothing audible anyway, only spit dribble lips silence, not a sound. Laramie Lou had lost his voice and a panic ensued for he suddenly knew he’d never speak Greek, Hebrew, Xhosa, Navajo, or Etruscan; he’d never know each language’s secrets to happiness, no 37 different names for 37 kinds of winds and so he rolled over, ducked under his wool quilt and slept and dreamed of a lady with a Russian accent. She had still blue eyes. He braved her serenity and stared into those eyes, held it long enough to feel her right knee buckle and shoulders shrug and when he awoke, he knew god was close.
The morning bird watchers swore they heard Laramie Lou scream all night long, “sing some brass…drink a flask.” That’s why he lost his voice, they insisted. The newspaper delivery men disagreed. They heard something different.. “fling it crass, wear a mask” and so the kinfolk argued and debated and creeds were drawn.
Laramie Lou looked left and then right, noticed each side cheering their own kind and so he walked straight, between the masses, mowing down the fog. He walked for hours, until the Mataloosa bridge. He slipped down the slope and there it was…a surprise, a 1966 Bert Campenaris baseball card, curled corners, faded colors, looking like a melted LP, but it was Campenaris alright, so with diamond nine, metal mind, Laramie Lou slid in silence back to slave labor frito lay conveyor belt double shift and then cleaning offices at night, grave digger Richie Hebner dawn, and back home, to do the dishes and laundry and writing holiday cards with real picture stamps and a trip to the standing in line post office – old men without glasses, big eyed ladies reading books, boys with backpacks, and Laramie Lou enjoyed a silent stare at the ho hum cashier, her first name pinned to her uniform, Darleene, her pleasant holiday greetings and maybe a future writing on note cards with her, sharing a brandy fused coffee, poor old mute Laramie Lou…all of it still a miracle.
on a day vows are almost taken
i’ve never seen a mushroom cloud or i have, but only on tv….kind of beautiful which makes me wonder if the end of the world will be the same…sitting on a porch sipping one harveys wallbanger after another, hoping the vodka will never run out, contemplating god, maybe even talking to the the great one, ted williams, and then after a little rumination about next destinations, if there are any, that mushroom dust cloud closing in, my thoughts will switch to how close Joe DiMaggio came to hitting more career home runs than striking out and just as i start to choke on the radiation fumes, up comes some new “oil can” Boyd pitcher nicknamed “moonshine” Mankowitz, hailing from some old, almost forgotten Mississippi town, and i will him with me for a beer or his preferred boilermaker, and down they go and down we go, two mushrooming spiral drunks with mike witt last day 1984 season perfect game smiles.
on an otherwise not so romantic night
“A dirty chain ain’t half bad,” mulled Slapstick Sam. “Keeps a stranger from flying over the handlebars, keeps the links together.”
The air was thick, but it wasn’t summer, no swimming through molasses decisions needed, to move or not to move. It was almost winter and a few pitchers had already signed nice free agent contracts, a small trade here-talk of bigger trades there. Talk of January being mild, of the Sanitary Commissioner stepping down, of old Slapstick Sam unveiling his stack of basketball cards, the tall ones, from the early 70’s including the Lew Alcindor rookie and the sound of sweet Lew turned minds to Maury Wills and his 104 stolen base season, of him only getting caught 13 times, helped Slapstick Sam sleep well and he woke up good and ready, strong coffee wondering if Sadaharu Oh hit 868 homeruns, than maybe Josh Gibson hit 900 or some unknown league in Liechtenstein housed a gunner who hit 40 inside the parkers for 30 years which adds up to 1200 if these moon time calculations are accurate.
But back to that dirty chain, Slapstick Sam had his eyes on a girl. She went by the name Calypso the Copperfield, named after the magician, and she could dance, on a pogo stick or a unicycle, it didn’t matter, she had the stroke, in dirty water or high blue skies, she had the grace, that knowing she wasn’t supposed to be and so her and Slapstick Sam wandered into a wintery night and the smell was right, the wood burning and crispiness of it all December, but they turned back anyway and settled down on their cabin sofa, on a love seat, and flipped on a rerun of some old regular season game…the rib and ridicule of the play by play and color putting them at ease, glad to be alive for another night.
i think i hate november
i was gonna quit drinking but confusion and paranoia and please pour me three more!!! and good thing i did drink because after reading charles bukowski’s ham on rye i learned about a baseball player i had never heard of before – Jigger Statz and so i shared my discovery with a friend who likes baseball. (it’s hard to have a friend who doesn’t like baseball at least a little) and he reminded me that Jigger Statz is one of 8 or 9 players who amassed 4,000 hits in pro ball…..most of Statz’s hits were in the minor leagues, but so what, that’s some firewood to wrap around me all winter or at least one lonely night in november.
milwaukee is often called brew city
getting hooked on old world series highlight videos, the ones that show fans cheering, player’s lovers, and have a narrator. well, i was wondering about sober and all those addiction hotlines and the thing is there’s nothing better than being drunk on world series highlights videos so screw the hotlines, I’m going back to the 1979 world series highlight film and getting drunk off that, with omar moreno’s weight which couldn’t have been more than 170 and yet, the wind didn’t whoooooosh him into the next town and willie stargell’s arm pumping and some oriole’s hair and the only 11 hit shutout in post season play, which didn’t happen in 1979, but I bet it was a lazy, afternoon game back when playoff games were played in the day so kids could run home from school and enjoy the game sweating not really concerned with the math of it all.
it’ll be nice to see you again…
way back when
so many years ago
so many moments ago,
there was an opening day first kiss and a long holding hands and world series fight and another first kiss.
i love red cheeks and rich people and poor people and people walking and people rolling wheel chair and it makes me think about the the origin of species and creation versus evolution, but abstract and everybody thought about that. vomiting drunk morning in the high school bathrooom stalls. we became allies but I had my own experiences. I’d seen a pile of abandoned clothes on the side of the road and it reminded me of a salt pillar from sunday bible class, but fuck it I’m turning. i’m looking at that salt thing. i’m going to 14th and hopgood with my brown paper booze bag, where we can have a whisky in park bench flask heaven.
There are new rules in this Covid 2020 baseball season that is supposed to start soon, maybe none more controversial than the universal DH.
I was hoping they might add — players will be allowed to wander around stadiums during rain delays. They’d be wearing masks and observing all they could see and they’d stumble on a red bird leaning face down in a bed of flowers, dead as can be. The bed of flowers would be in someone’s yard and the owner of the house and the yard would be hovering over the dead bird so the player would ask the who what where why detective stuff, to find out how the bird died and so on and she would reply,
“I don’t know what happened, but the bird’s been around every morning since however long ago that red bird was born, every morning and afternoon and evening it has been here playing and chirping among these flowers. We called it Mona and i reckon that Mona wanted to die where it loved to be and so it landed on these here flowers in the yard and died, to thank me for the hospitality and who knows; maybe the bird knew that its dead body would nourish the flowers?”
bus station love
She went by the name Starfish. No one knew her birth name. She lived near a bus station. She loved to go there and watch all the hellos and goodbyes. But it was closed, had been for a month or more, quiet like a cemetery, even quieter, because there were no screams for the deceased, no robins chirping, no angry dogs barking, only the soft hum of refrigerators.
She slipped her hand into an oven mitt, walked to the station, and smashed the side door window. She reached around and unlocked the door. An alarm went off. She didn’t care. She walked to the photo booth, the kind with a curtain. She stood there nice and tall. That’s when she noticed a young man sitting at a table. She smiled with half her mouth. The other side was a flat line. She had no lipstick on her lips, no makeup at all. She had long straight black hair. It shined from the overhead fluorescent long tube yellow lights which for some strange reason were still on. They were the kind that housed moths in the hot humid summer months. She was wearing a long black blouse that extended down to her knees She had green wool socks jacked up under her blouse. The only flesh she flashed, other than her face, was some space over her wrists. She had skinny fingers.
The young man sitting at the table went by the name Lugnut. No one knew his birth name either. He didn’t need to break into the bus station. He was asleep in the bathroom, sprawled out in one of the stalls when they shut the operation down. No one noticed him. He’d been living there ever since, munching on bags of peanuts and Dr. Pepper, compliments of the snack bar, no charge. He sat at the same table that once housed kids eating french fries with ketchup on their cheeks. There used to be old men there too, reading newspapers and playing card games and every day a lady would file her nails, always the same lady, always at the same time, more reliable than a clock. But they were all gone and only Starfish and Lugnut remained.
There were some stray salt packets on the floor so Lugnut picked them up, ripped them open and watched the little white grains sprawl out on the table which happened to be black. He imagined endless galaxies of stars being born.
It was then that he looked up and noticed Starfish’s half-smile and wondered. He looked some more, this time at her long blouse. He figured she played the piano and lived with eight cats or something. His toes wiggled without any conscious effort. They wiggled on their own like they were stretching out after a real long hibernation or something. His spine straightened. He lost his slouch. He wasn’t used to that kind of freedom. He never wore cowboy boots or a superman t-shirt. He stood up and reached into his front pants pocket and pulled out a 1990’s Ken Griffey baseball card. He held it in his palm, looked at Griffey’s still-life-stand-tall relaxed bat pointed towards heaven and then he looked up at Starfish again.
She smiled with the other side of her face and then slipped out the same door she had entered.
Lugnut heard sirens nearing so he went back into the bathroom stall and sprawled out. He too smiled with half his face.