Two MLB Poems


Jacob Collins-Wilson
 About the Writer

Jacob Collins-Wilson, a high school English teacher, has had poetry published or forthcoming in Crack The Spine, Barely South Review, The Finger Literary Magazine, Spillway, Rathalla, Poetry Quarterly and Burningword Literary Journal among others. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net series. He can be reached by everyone at emailingjacob@gmail.com. 

TWIN KILLING

 

Everything in baseball is measurable:

Men stand sixty-feet-six-inches from the pitching rubber

with pine-tarred bats & dirty palms.

 

When my father gave up drinking,

it was too late. It was after

he'd broken my brother's nose.

I don't know if my brother fought back,

or if it makes a difference,

but the thought of my father pummeling

a thirteen-year-old seems too much like a movie

for me to fear. I would have fought.

If I were my brother, I would have fought so hard.

Would've stop passing the mashed potatoes.

 

Ninety-feet from the back corner of home to first-base.

 

Sometimes redemption is drinking

 

alone in a new apartment while your wife

and sons stare at that empty chair during supper.

It's buying extra Christmas gifts,

splurging on birthdays. It's finally playing whiffle ball,

though your back hurts like hell; your right knee,

the one you had surgery on at thirty,

buckles. It's buckling down. It's stop pretending

you at least return the cans for change.

It's trying to balance the scale between victory and loss.

 

127' & 3 3/8'' to second.

 

This is a poem for my brother

who found himself by working as a cashier

at the grocery store; my brother

who turned the grocery business into love.

The same people come through his line

and he smiles. It's the grin always plastered on his face

for his new wife as if she were the aisles

he discovered hope in, as if he had just seen

the dentist, as if fistfights, forgetting, running

away––the drug, alcohol, physical abuse––and remembering

childhood trips to the beach were all secondary

to being alive. My brother learned to measure happiness

by how wide he could smile.

 

Home-run fences vary in distance.

 

This poem is for me

because I have always been envious.

This poem is for the Green Monster

at Fenway.

 

This poem is for those of you

who don't have a local grocer willing to hire

lost teenagers. This poem is for the soccer player

whose father's father was a quarterback.

For doctors who diagnose boxers schizophrenic

because they just want to destroy:

 

Please remember my brother,

remember my father.

Remember no matter how long the struggle is

to make a fist,

to throw it through a face or a pillow, you never will.

Force is an equation

you can't ignore the reality of.

 

This is for mothers who don't breastfeed,

for Oprah because she's the only human I hate,

for people who hate, for those who don't fall in love

because they care too much for the world, for employees

sleeping with their bosses, for those of us who don't

use coupons:

Remember my brother and father.

Soon they will die. Perhaps after me.

 

Everything in baseball is measurable,

and that makes living hard.

 

But how do we try? We build tree-houses

in every forest no matter how small.

Create nests for children, give them secrets

to keep. Teach them to think of infinity,

to wear leaves and wave pieces of bark

at birds and cars. Make up stories

to teach them about people. Let them fail.

Tell your children that I'm their godfather

even though they'll never know me. Tell them

I won't give them a single fucking piece of candy unless they earn it.

 

 

 

THE PITCHER

 

He's just a guy in the middle of a diamond

with the ball in his hand

until he addresses the rubber.

 

He is a body divided among eight. His limbs are autonomous.

He is only as alive as the ball––thread & hide

making it's way around, governed by force.

Once the ball finds a new force

from a bat, the pitcher is all back-up,

passive, a stand-in at best but never considered

a position player, like a friend's little brother

is only 'if necessary.'

 

But when he addresses the rubber,

his face turns from skin to mud:

it's just him, the rubber & the slope of the mound.

 

When he looks, he doesn't see the backstop, batter or catcher––

only space & the trail the ball will follow: guided, touched

with sweat, passion and a little spit & spin. We love

the potential of the pitcher, his otherness alone on a field

filled with his own body parts. He bears down on batters,

arm dangling like a chainsaw accident, thinking,

 

Just one more out

no walks

strike-outs are fascist

he's two-for-three against me

rain's slicked the skin

he's crowding me

I wonder if Tatiana is here

where's my dad sitting?