Saturday, November 15, 2003

The New York Yankees Play Two by Michael Baker

In Yankee Stadium where tragedies

happen at least twice a day and

it’s 5PM and workers belt bourbon

and beer after church and the mugginess cracks

over the light over the green fields,

as women stay startled, hands

reaching for tissues, garments shut tight.

In the bleachers we sought distraction

and the gap-toothed hag’s arms

seemed ready for flight. Every game she tells us

about the night she ate a box

of Cracker Jacks and fell into a coma.

Nothing could save her. Like Lindbergh

she left her easy life and floated,

without modern instruments, towards Kansas City

to have coffee with God: I can’t go forward,

I can’t go back. They argued about Fisk

and Bucky Dent, laughed about the Babe,

and arm-wrestled over Rizzuto in the Hall.

Help me, make me stronger, but God

always triumphs.

He grandly points to his groin: “Seed,

Divide, and Lay 7 on the Yanks.”

In twenty minutes the scoreboard stat line

starts to zigzag like a whore’s whip—

it’s 8-6 in the 7th, Tribe winning,

and she and her bleacher buddies scream

for Gehrig, Little Leaguers,

a miracle from the bullpen, if not merely cable coverage.

The fans ignored her and gave warnings about pills.

Later, we pray, she will join a circus in Double A,

become a minimum wage clown/masseuse,

a short order cook, and reliable plant

in Midwest barrooms for the visiting teams.

She will marry a blind, bald man, rear Koreans,

bathe in barbed wire, and get emotional

over cotton candy scandals. She will then come home.

She works the third base area near here now,

threatening the Wall Street types with crossed fingers

pointed in her pockets, following

other fathers to the restrooms

on Sundays, mocking their selections

of foot longs and generic domestics.

Weather and play become dull and damp

and our Faith, the fan, spreads with the sinking sun,

leaning towards our younger brothers, puffing

and scratching, day in day out,

dreaming of past World Series, hits of codeine

and Buds, her future fanatic tormentees,

because she knows soon the loud roar

after another comeback

alarms another fleshy heaven

that stains her thighs’ second game.

Michael Baker, an adjunct professor in Northern New Jersey, loves the Indians, both the Cleveland and the gambling varieties.

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