Early October, a meaningless game
at the end of a horrible season,
an expensive first row ticket
behind the photographer’s press box.
From this vantage point
the well-tended diamond looks approachable,
invitingly close, human.
Between inning practice throws
sizzle in from third to first.
Each audible pop in the fielder’s mitt
saves me from unspeakable dangers,
foul balls or errant line drives.
The barrage and sonic rumble of low-flying planes
adds to the sensory overload, the carnival atmosphere.
All seems crisp, clean, otherworldly clear.
A pointless fall victory
from ragtag boys of summer,
a solid outing from a pitcher
returned from the disabled list,
a pair of two-run homers sparking enthusiasm
for a season yet to come.
When my team was heading off the field,
the second baseman looked for a likely target for a souvenir ball.
When our eyes met, did he recognize
the look of a long suffering, die-hard fanatic,
did he hear the whispers of my frustration
at his season-long batting woes?
Did he feel the shared pain from when
he inexplicably dropped the routine pop-up
against the hated crosstown rivals?
He saw me, recognized something, and threw.
My right hand caught it barehanded,
and suddenly the eager college kid to my right had it too,
forcing it out of my one-handed grasp,
into his own waiting hands.
I didn’t make a scene. I acquiesced
with the grace of knowing such a memento
was of no real use to me.
That ball was much like this season: promising,
firmly in hand, and soon wrested away.
We both lost out to others who wanted it more,
who did whatever it took
to come away with the prize.
Still, baseball is a forgiving game,
each long season soon followed by off-season moves,
then a spring of renewed hope and promise.
We loyal fans root on, enticed by possibility,
always willing to nobly suffer the slings and arrows
of the next outrageous season’s fortune.
It’s always a question of vision in relation to light,
which seems to belabor the obvious, and yet we
quickly are hurled back to feelings of national pride
relative to the battered icon, a survivor’s pleasure
that goes beyond the hard proof of rockets, bombs,
and the spectacle and commotion that surrounds them.
Freedom and bravery are only but the start, for
three unknown verses continue unsung, expanding,
expounding upon the story. From the shore, by a stream,
the silence is broken by a breeze which blows in
synchronistic concert with the morning’s first rays
to great effect: the banner reflected in the water
overwhelms and delights. Pride, yes, but further
memories of confusion and the havoc of war,
the cleansing wash of dreaded enemy’s blood,
from which there was no refuge. In triumph
a symbol waves, and may it ever be that freemen
stand in victory and peace, humbly preserved
by a higher power’s grace and blessings,
that we answer in turn with trust and with praise.
Today we take these lyrics in stride, neglecting
Key’s happy reverence for that spangled field
of bright stars and broad stripes, instead reflecting
only our brash impatience to play ball
and somehow get on with the game.
The Citron Review originally published this piece in their Summer 2014 issue.
Benediction for No One in Particular
In a world where myriad cultures clash and
mega-corporations pull a network of controlling strings,
sometimes the most dubious distinction is none at all.
Let us honor that desire to be no one of note,
to travel safely within the limits, under the radar,
getting from point A to point B without finger-pointing,
steering clear of the litigious waywardness that
pushes at the limits of credulity,
where outrageous pleas are bargained at the going rate
while special others tread carefully, inch by painful inch,
learning the graceful tiptoe of modern transparency
to which so many aspire and cannot yet achieve.
While the majority continues to mark its territory,
some opt for the anonymity of being unlisted,
uncharted, a nonchalant chill wind blowing
and dissipating quickly, barely there, sneaking
from the spotlight’s searing soliloquy into the shy
casual comfort of the great chorus waiting in the wings.
The ancient cemetery is littered with weather-beaten stones
that carry no message, no names, dates, or wisdom.
These faded epitaphs are but empty markers now,
symbols of unidentified lives lived, slate-gray inaccuracies
that share no clues as to glory or tragedy, only the
eventual submission to this mortal coil unwound,
silent reminders that in the end all glamour is vain
and all material rewards fleeting.
So here’s to the silent millions, moving without notice,
unspeaking conquerors, quietly tweaking life’s balance,
invisible and yet indivisible, masses that manage something
as nothing, in a panoply of brilliantly undistinguished ways.
The Newtowner originally published this in their Fall 2011 issue.
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. He is a champion of the underdog who often composes to an obscure power pop soundtrack. His first collection, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press) is now available on Amazon.com. A chapbook, Memory Marries Desire, is available from Finishing Line Press.