Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PAD Challenge Day 25

Late again!  Today's challenge took me a while - I worked on it most of the day.  Poetic Asides' prompt was to write a sports poem.  NaPoWriMo invited us to write a cento: a poem composed entirely of lines lifted from other poems.  This is my first crack at one, and I spent the day reading and re-reading several baseball-themed poems, including a great one by my poet friend BJ Ward, and agonizing over what lines to use and in what sensible order. Like yesterday's lipogram, it's harder than it sounds, but here is the result:

Baseball Cento

A night game, the silver potion of the lights –
white the chalked-off lines in the grass,
white the immaculate uniform,
the white-knickered players
tense, seize and attend
against the bright grass.

The pitcher walks back of the hill,
establishes his cap and returns –
left-hander curlicues called strike threes
around the outside corner.

into the slice of percentage,
that possibility of heaven
that is a swing range –

the bleached horsehide white:
the color of nothing,
caught like a cheek before it ducks
by shivery hickory,

and the crack is like a starter gun.

The ball, a scintilla
high in the black backdrop of the sky,
is like a prayer,
and you are the team’s only angel
to catch it, snare what is speeding
toward its treetop nest.
Your glove turns into a blossom, the ball
a bee-line from the sky
into the sweet nectar of out.

Even our thieveries, well done, are blessed
with a certain luminousness,
the fierce legitimacy of the neatly stolen,
as the moon passes over the pitcher’s mound
like the slowed stride of an aging shortstop.

The stars hover like old umpires
over the diamond,
the emerald theater of the night.

Source poems: 
Robert Pinsky, "The Night Game"
BJ Ward, "Upon Hearing that Baseball is Boring to Today's Youth"
Michael Blumenthal, "Night Baseball"
Donald Hall, "The Baseball Players"
Robert Fitzgerald, "Cobb Would Have Caught It"
Marianne Moore, "Baseball and Writing"
Rob Vogt, "The Path to the Dugout"

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