Thursday, April 5, 2012

PAD Challenge Day 5

First of all, thanks to Maureen Thorson and NaPoWriMo for the shout-out and selecting me as blog for "Blog of the Day"! I'm glad you all liked my Day 4 blues poem.

Today is Opening Day of the baseball season, a holiday for any avid baseball fan. My Phillies opened the season today by beating the Pirates 1-0, thanks to another pitching gem from Roy Halladay (8 innings of 2-hit shutout ball), who has now been the starter for ten consecutive Opening Days. In honor of the day, NaPoWriMo's prompt is to write a baseball poem. Needless to say, I've written several (one of which was published last year in the literary baseball magazine Spitball), so this prompt is a piece of cake for me. But as usual, I'm adding the prompt from Poetic Asides, which is to write about something "before your time." That begs a historical baseball poem, and the topic I chose seems a bit "dark" for such a celebratory day, but here it is for what it's worth.

Polo Grounds, August 16, 1920

As you lay on the ground, Ray,

on that terrible afternoon,

blood oozed from your ear.

Mays had delivered his submarine pitch,

hurling the muddy, stained baseball

through the twilight from mound to plate.

They say you didn’t even see the ball,

which is why you didn’t move as the pitch

cut in on you. When Mays heard the crack,

and the ball squibbed back to him,

he thought he’d heard the bat, not your skull,

and he threw to first for the putout.

You managed to stumble to your feet,

then collapsed again, and they rushed you

to the hospital, where you died hours later.

They all took off their caps for you,

Ray Chapman, as you passed through

this game into the next.

Before you left for the road trip from Cleveland

to New York, you and your young wife took a look

at the new house being built for you.

She was expecting your first child,

and you told her you would retire soon

to raise your family, and join the family business.

If only they had helmets back then,

you would have had the chance.


De said...

Oh, Bruce. Chills.
Mine for the baseball prompt ended up sad, too. Such dark sides to such a happy American pastime.

R. Wilder Jr. said...

What a tragic telling. I love your pacing with this one. The event unfolds like a slow-motion replay. And that last stanza really allows the poem to leave a haunting impression. Well done.