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Three baseball poems

The official machine streaming Safe! or Out!

Readying the Field

  • His tractor tugs dirt in a circle,
  • combs through clods as solid as baseballs,
  • then hoes the whole again,
  • signaling the mound a bull’s eye.
  • Only then does he tip
  • his stare to the square
  • diamond, smooth all earth
  • between home and first.
  • The next man up throws lines
  • thick as cheers, the official
  • machine streaming Safe! or Out!,
  • a screaming geometry of summer
  • pitched cleanly into this field,
  • this noisy home for everywhere
  • we dare to run.

Working the Little League Concession Stand

  • It’s childhood turn-taking
  • all over again, no matter
  • that I want to disappear,
  • duck out, develop a deadly disease
  • right at the last minute, but still
  • be in the stands to scream my offspring
  • to victory. A moral dilemma of the smallest kind:
  • I can’t see the field behind the hot cheese machine,
  • and this double-duty of deep-fryer and burger-flipper
  • “models for our children” the all-important,
  • no-swearing-when-the-grease-hits-
  • and-the-hungry-line-up-thirty-deep
  • team spirit and camaraderie worthy, I’m told,
  • of our athletic parenting. Except that this afternoon,
  • the antiquated cash register strips me of all my degrees,
  • even my first-grade knowledge of subtraction,
  • and despite my straight-A pedigree, I’m suddenly
  • stupid-as-stupid-can-be as I trial-and-error my way
  • without instruction through punch and bings, No Sales
  • popping up unexpectedly just as I try to hand-off
  • six orders of fries, burgers, cokes, and two giant
  • blueberry Slushies that slide, like the best home-plate steal,
  • down the spotless T of the league’s ten-year sponsor. Yea,
  • “Go, team!”

The Little League World Series: First Play

  • Williamsport, PA
  • Teams crowd the hills,
  • fill in the land along the river,
  • uniforms, like patches of colorful cows amidst the fields.
  • All the corn points to the ballpark,
  • the small town’s downtown leaning in for the anthem.
  • It’s time to begin: the countries and counties
  • in parents’ faces shuffle in the stands.
  • A TV camera shifts to a close-up.
  • At the plate, a child, half the height of a tractor,
  • breathes in his heroes, exhales the length of the state.
  • In the nervous grip of a twelve-year-old:
  • planting, youth, harvest, old age.
Marjorie Maddox

Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Marjorie Maddox has published ten collections of poetry—including True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock); Transplant, Transplant, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); and Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (2017 Fomite), and over 450 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State Press), she also has published two children’s books with several forthcoming soon. For more information, please see www.marjoriemaddox.com

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Readying the Field

  • His tractor tugs dirt in a circle,
  • combs through clods as solid as baseballs,
  • then hoes the whole again,
  • signaling the mound a bull’s eye.
  • Only then does he tip
  • his stare to the square
  • diamond, smooth all earth
  • between home and first.
  • The next man up throws lines
  • thick as cheers, the official
  • machine streaming Safe! or Out!,
  • a screaming geometry of summer
  • pitched cleanly into this field,
  • this noisy home for everywhere
  • we dare to run.

Working the Little League Concession Stand

  • It’s childhood turn-taking
  • all over again, no matter
  • that I want to disappear,
  • duck out, develop a deadly disease
  • right at the last minute, but still
  • be in the stands to scream my offspring
  • to victory. A moral dilemma of the smallest kind:
  • I can’t see the field behind the hot cheese machine,
  • and this double-duty of deep-fryer and burger-flipper
  • “models for our children” the all-important,
  • no-swearing-when-the-grease-hits-
  • and-the-hungry-line-up-thirty-deep
  • team spirit and camaraderie worthy, I’m told,
  • of our athletic parenting. Except that this afternoon,
  • the antiquated cash register strips me of all my degrees,
  • even my first-grade knowledge of subtraction,
  • and despite my straight-A pedigree, I’m suddenly
  • stupid-as-stupid-can-be as I trial-and-error my way
  • without instruction through punch and bings, No Sales
  • popping up unexpectedly just as I try to hand-off
  • six orders of fries, burgers, cokes, and two giant
  • blueberry Slushies that slide, like the best home-plate steal,
  • down the spotless T of the league’s ten-year sponsor. Yea,
  • “Go, team!”

The Little League World Series: First Play

  • Williamsport, PA
  • Teams crowd the hills,
  • fill in the land along the river,
  • uniforms, like patches of colorful cows amidst the fields.
  • All the corn points to the ballpark,
  • the small town’s downtown leaning in for the anthem.
  • It’s time to begin: the countries and counties
  • in parents’ faces shuffle in the stands.
  • A TV camera shifts to a close-up.
  • At the plate, a child, half the height of a tractor,
  • breathes in his heroes, exhales the length of the state.
  • In the nervous grip of a twelve-year-old:
  • planting, youth, harvest, old age.
Marjorie Maddox

Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Marjorie Maddox has published ten collections of poetry—including True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock); Transplant, Transplant, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); and Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (2017 Fomite), and over 450 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State Press), she also has published two children’s books with several forthcoming soon. For more information, please see www.marjoriemaddox.com

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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