27 April 2012

Fri-Write Friday 4/27: Don't look back

Welcome to the first "Fri-Write" Friday! On Fridays, as noted with my new editorial calendar, I play to share some of my own works in progress--primarily poems, but also some other projects I'll be working on.  


As many of you know, I have been taking part in Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge. I don't often share my own poems here, but I've been thinking a lot about the importance of being part of the "poetry community," and it seems to me that to really be part of it, I need to engage in it a lot more personally.

"Don't look back": a baseball poem (Image: "Trophy 2," copyright Ian Fain)
This poem is one I wrote for Day 25 of the 2012 April PAD Challenge, which asked us to "write a poem about a sport." I am, thanks to my dad, a big fan of baseball; for the first time this year, I'm participating in a few Fantasy Baseball leagues (and not doing too well ... but not for lack of trying, and I could be doing worse!). My dad is also a big fan of the Negro Leagues, which stuck in my brain as I started working on this poem. I decided to make my sports poem a tribute to the Negro Leagues, and the hardships those players faced in their own league, in baseball, and in life.


"Don't look back"
"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you!" ~Satchel Paige

Hate and love for ages swelled in his oaky arms, dripping
through his veins like sweat down his bicep into the fold
of a pressed cotton shirt with stripes that made him dizzy
if he looked at them wrong, that strange, disorienting
juxtaposition of white against black, black against white,
wood in his hand clenched to splinters as some sudden

white thing buzzes past his cheek like an awkwardly failed
kiss and the squat man behind him screaming out, abruptly,
out, out of the blue like his ancestors fallen from the sky
where they once had wings but shed them to plow the field,
soak up ache and boy in the blood like wine, jump the broom,
bate the mule, reap the cotton that hems its way through this

disorienting juxtaposition, black against white against green
against blue sky and red faces screaming him out sending him
reeling back to the ditch his daddy dug first by shovel and then
by hand just to show them, show them all, where he came from
was a gutter and where he went was a hole in the ground filled
with love, love, hate for ages, and knowing all he had been

stripped of, pinstriped, lost in a sea of white against black
against white against, banging, banging, swing and miss
and finally that scream out that sends him reeling to waking
where he casts off these dry cotton sheets and rises to throw
stones in the night, pitching against the world, waiting
for the one true moment to swing low and away to Jesus

and steal away home.  

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Check out these other baseball poems:

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Check out these other poems on Our Lost Jungle:

18 comments:

  1. I like how the ball goes by "like an awkwardly failed kiss," I'm thinking a missed kiss, wonderful imagery and feeling the air around that ball.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! And thanks for stopping by :)

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  2. I like that! I love the way it builds and builds to the end, so the last two lines make me smile, but wistfully.

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    1. Thanks, Joy. I'd really like to hear more about how you interpreted those last two lines, actually!

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  3. Love the double entendres and allusions! I'm not a huge fan of contemporary sports. Mostly because I feel it is too artificial, too preened. None of that in in your poem. Thanks for the love of the game!

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    1. Thank *you*, Lara. Today's sports have definitely lost some of their appeal, but there's always verse to keep them somewhat lovely :)

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  4. I wish I had the gift of poetry... Very nicely done.

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    1. You make me blush--I myself am very excited for your book! Now *that's* a gift!

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  5. Khara: amazingly done. The energy of the build up feels like waves breaking against the bluff rising in power each time. The crescendo magnificent with the last wave taking me under mixing my tears with that of the ocean.

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    1. Wow, Meena ... Your words here are a poem in and of themselves! Thank you so much!

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    2. Khara: Yet another reason now for Friday to be my favorite day of the week. I believe I have reread this poem 6 times already. It keeps drawing me in. Bravo, again!

      Also, I figure it is only fair to reward the writer with an impression that could come close to what was experienced during the reading of the piece further deepening the connection between reader and writer.

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    3. Well that is certainly a reward I appreciate! Thank you again.

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  6. Khara, I'm blinking back tears unsuccessfully right now.

    This is such a powerful piece which speaks to the effects of prejudice & racism on a person.

    I had a visceral flashback of the Alaskan village my family moved away from & back to when I was a 4th grader. That's when I realized my classmates treated me as they did solely because of my skin color, and for what someone else's ancestors did to theirs.

    Bravo.

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    1. Thank you so much, for your comment and for sharing your story. It is so sad what ignorance can do in innocent lives.

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  7. Beautiful poem, Khara. You obviously have a gift with language. :)

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    1. Thank you! (With this poem, I think I got very lucky when it came to the language!) And thanks for stopping by :)

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  8. I don't pretend to know much about poetry. Some I get and some makes me scratch my head, but yours was very visual and I really enjoyed it. Bravo for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn, for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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