Tuesday, November 17, 2015



The extra-innings pitcher
has just the look of
traintrack houses
in Knoxville

Of early-evening Asheville parties
on a porch slung over the river
as heavy slanting sunshine
combusts into night

Mouth dipping at both ends
hair dripping from his cap
words spit like fastballs between
pulls of smoke and slugs of beer

Nine scattered round
the old Amana, the oilcan table
the game on the radio
from Pittsburgh or Atlanta

Five of us rolling up
with fresh lines of sunburn
tracing yesterday’s crew cuts
beer cans glancing off our shins

Rollie Fingers all wound up
glaring down at Lonnie, swearing
get your ass up to the store, still
hours away from the serious threats

Tilting back the crackled street
tall trees waving to the left
hedges swaying to the right
gas station dead ahead

Just supplies, Lon says squarely
as the screen door jangles
into filthy fans and flypaper
red Coke cooler, candy rack

Hughie winks at Len as
Sam bags Schlitz and Salems
pork rinds and Red Hots, relays
to Ken who doesn’t talk barely

Riverside the white clouds
scud across the sky as
smoke rushes down throats
and beer foams from the can

Clouds swirling
smoke curling
fenders knocking
mouths dripping at both ends

And then with a shout branching
bumping roots slapping
branches brushing gnats
pumping bends panting

Finally breaking through
to scour hands at the spigot
sliding only slightly late into home
beside the corner cupboard

Nannie bows her head and says
Dear Lord, thank you for bringing
all of us together here, and what
on earth has happened to your ear?

Well, most days you were happy
at the Oak Ridge Country Club
in the nicest house in Bluefield
atop the sledding hill

But what a relief
to follow strangers into woods
to stand in shadows listening
to everything alive

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