Saturday, October 06, 2007

Baseball and Barbed Wire by Thomas Michael McDade

When Joe Morris hit baseballs
out of hand to us in the back field,
I never thought much about the gap
between the sight and sound
of a ball flying off a bat.

That lesson came another day
at the top of the backstop
where I wondered why I was better
at things that didn’t matter
like climbing fences
and telephone poles than hitting
fastballs and judging line drives.

The field was empty except for
two guys in deep left center.

Joey Arnold offered a friendly hand
to Russ Miller and a sucker punch
in the face was what he got in return.

He dropped like an equipment bag
but it was eternity before the loud crack
like when Joe Morris gave a ball wings.

That’s all the fight there was.

They walked past my perch like that
haymaker had been the only thing
between friendship and me
tracking the speed of light and sound

When I told Johnny Nicastro,
he said he’d seen Joe Morris beat on
a truck driver up close for an hour
and he heard what he saw
when he saw it.

Like a catcher, I said.

Johnny pitched to me for a while
and I foul-tipped four or five.

Then we went to a fence at the race track
that had barbed wire like prison.

(Author’s note: This poem originally appeared on Fight These Bastards)

Thomas Michael McDade is a lifetime Red Sox fan who grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home of the Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox.

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