The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Wednesday


Baseball
By Gail Mazur


The game of baseball is not a metaphor
and I know it's not really life.
The chalky green diamond, the lovely
dusty brown lanes I see from airplanes
multiplying around the cities
are only neat playing fields.
Their structure is not the frame
of history carved out of forest,
that is not what I see on my ascent.

And down in the stadium,
the veteran catcher guiding the young
pitcher through the innings, the line
of concentration between them,
that delicate filament is not
like the way you are helping me,
only it reminds me when I strain
for analogies, the way a rookie strains
for perfection, and the veteran,
in his wisdom, seems to promise it,
it glows from his upheld glove,

and the man in front of me
in the grandstand, drinking banana
daiquiris from a thermos,
continuing through a whole dinner
to the aromatic cigar even as our team
is shut out, nearly hitless, he is
not like the farmer that Auden speaks
of in Breughel's Icarus,

or the four inevitable woman-hating
drunkards, yelling hugging
each other, and moving up and down
continuously for more beer

and the young wife trying to understand
what a full count could be
to please her husband happy in
his old dreams, or the little boy
in the Yankees cap already nodding
off to sleep against his father,
program and popcorn memories
sliding into the future,
and the old woman from Lincoln, Maine
screaming at the Yankee slugger
with wounded knees to break his leg

this is not a microcosm,
not even a slice of life

and the terrible slumps,
when the greatest hitter mysteriously
goes hitless for weeks, or
the pitcher's stuff is all junk
who threw like a magician all last month,
or the days when our guys look
like Sennett cops, slipping, bumping
each other, then suddenly, the play
that wasn't humanly possible, the Kid
we know isn't ready for the big leagues,
leaps into the air to catch a ball
that should have gone downtown,
and coming off the field is hugged
and bottom-slapped by the sudden
sorcerers, the winning team

the question of what makes a man
slump when his form, his eye,
his power aren't to blame, this isn't
like the bad luck that hounds us,
and his frustration in the games
not like our deep rage
for disappointing ourselves

the ball park is an artifact,
manicured safe, "scene in an Easter egg,"
and the order of the ball game,
the firm structure with the mystery
of accidents always contained,
not the wild field we wander in,
where I'm trying to recite the rules,
to repeat the statistics of the game,
and the wind keeps carrying my words away

--------

My flist is awesome. I'm just saying, in case you think I didn't notice. *g* Tuesday was a much, much better day than Monday in pretty much every regard. We had a couple of minor scares that on other days might have been major grievances -- the Hebrew school dropped a last-minute bombshell about Bar Mitzvah tutoring scheduling (as in, "Hello, we want to move it up, can your son come tomorrow at 6:30?") and the credit card company called to ask about unauthorized charges -- I had a moment of panic thinking we must have tossed out a receipt somewhere, maybe in the stolen trash can, and someone had been using our card, but it turned out that they had the charge for my new phone and services on the same bill as our Verizon bill for the cell phone that my son will be using, and they were just making sure we had two different plans on the card.

Pretty much the only calls I worried about were from family -- my father will likely be home tomorrow, with his gall bladder, as it sounds like they are going to keep an eye on it instead of operating right away since he seems to have passed the stone that brought him in, though they won't know for sure until tomorrow morning. I talked to my sister several times and my father's brother on the west coast, which is the most family contact I've had since Chanukah probably (and all of us forgot it was Purim, heh, though I did eat my chocolate hamantaschen).

And if it's Tuesday, you know what I'm watching! The big storyline this week on Boston Legal was about Alan's secretary Melissa getting arrested for income tax evasion because she wrote a rude note on her return instead of, um, paying. In prison she rants about her civil liberties, saying her grandfather would have wanted her to object to what the government is doing with her tax dollars. The stickler judge doesn't like her "stick it" to the IRS and won't let her cut a deal to pay the $400 she owes, and anyway she wants to go to trial, though Alan does not; he tells Melissa that there is nothing more patriotic than paying taxes. On the stand Melissa testifies that she's embarrassed over lies about weapons of mass destruction. "Didn't it embarrass you?", she asks the jury; the DA objects. She says she doesn't oppose the war, would have agreed that we had to get rid of Saddam, and would have accepted an apology over the idiocy with the weapons, but that and the torture and the restriction of civil rights...the prosecuting DA asks whether the soldiers embarrass her too, she says no, she is proud and grateful, and he asks what chance they have of victory if people don't pay taxes. The judge objects to all the jibber jabber in his courtroom and tells the DA to sit down while he's ahead.

Meanwhile Denise announces nervously to Shirley, "I dreamt I had a three way with Denny and Denny." Shirley says she wouldn't even want to dream that Denise told her that. Denise thinks it means she needs to start dating again, and Shirley recommends her nephew. Then Denny comes in and guesses that Denise dreamed they had sex, which freaks her out; she asks how he knows, and Denny claps his hands, telling her that he says that to everyone but she's the first who said yes. Then he asks her to dinner. Of course Denise agrees to go out with Shirley's nephew instead. But the nephew turns out to be a skank, and driving home, Denise gets hot for the cop who stops her to give her a ticket. Saunters in the next morning. Shirley: "You slept with him!" Denise: "I did not....maybe a little." Shirley: "You slut." Then the guy calls to ask Denise to meet him at the station...where he's been arrested for impersonating a police officer and needs an attorney! (Irrelevant note: when I jot down notes on episodes, I abbreviate everyone's names, so for instance on original Star Trek there are K, S, Mc and Sc. I have problems with BL because of Den and Den. So I think Denise was projecting herself as "Denny" and was actually dreaming about her own animus and...you know what, forget I ever said that. *ggg*)

Paul, meanwhile, is planning an intervention to get his daughter Rachel off drugs and wants Brad's help, but Brad insists that he did not see a woman on drugs and isn't happy to be put in the position. Paul visits Rachel and accuses her of trying to have it both ways with the drugs, and when Rachel says "Sometimes being there is more important than being sober," he calls in his thugs to drag her to rehab. When Paul visits her, she is surprisingly calm, asks about Fiona (whom Paul is taking care of), inquires as to whether Brad works for Paul and then explains that she's suing him for invasion of privacy. She also gives Paul a list of Fiona's allergies, favorite organic foods, friends, doctors, etc., asking him to stick with her routines and tell her that Rachel is in the hospital but not why. "And bring her here."

At Paul's house, while Fiona plays, Paul tells Brad about Rachel's plan to sue and apologizes for putting him in the middle. He's not sure why Rachel isn't protesting her commitment, but Brad guesses that she isn't really going to sue or put up a fight, because she doesn't want her drug problem to put social services on notice. When Brad tells Paul he wants to protect his relationship with Rachel, Paul is surprised that he thinks he has one. Brad and Paul agree to work together for Fiona's sake, and when Brad visits Rachel, she says she isn't trying to leave rehab because she's a drug addict who needs help and she knows it. She wants to get well and get her daughter back. The next time Paul visits Rachel, he brings Fiona and Brad, who watches smiling while Fiona explains that Brad pretended to be a monkey. "Wave goodbye to the big ape," Rachel advises her daughter when they get their alone time. This is going really nice places and these actors are all SO GOOD.

The Denise storyline gets silly: she visits her fake cop-lover in jail, says she'll be his attorney, is ready to argue to get him off (that is, found not guilty) but he insists on pleading guilty and making a big speech about how people should treat one another. The judge sentences him to community service, but when he blabbers some more, asking the judge to reconsider, he gets the community service hours doubled and jail time as well. Denise says she won't wait for him, so he kisses her, in the courtroom, where she tries objecting that it's assault but she's sure not struggling to get away. I don't like seeing Denise used as the fluff chick comic relief so I did not like this bit much at all.

Meanwhile Melissa, who used to be the fluff chick comic relief, asks Alan if he'll visit her if she goes to prison which he thinks is a very real possibility. She says he just needs to make one of those closing speeches she finds so hot, but he says that he has to believe in the case, and what he believes here is that she broke the law. She says, "Then you better find something to believe in," and walks out as Denny comes marching in, begging, "Why, Alan? That's all I'm going to ask." Alan quotes the line about how some people see things as they are, and ask why; some see things that never were, and claim Mad Cow. Denny tells that he's jeopardizing his loopholes and cites civil disobedience, anarchy...Alan pleads the girl, on whom he has an inexplicable, small but embarrassing crush. "She's fruity chewing gum...and I'm not." He says he won't act on it, it's just a momentary passing fancy, but but as moments go...

In his closing, the DA paints Melissa as being anti-American while soldiers are dying, calling her failure to pay taxes "as unpatriotic as it is illegal...the cut and run behavior of a coward. Don't you dare declare her a hero." Alan explains in his closing that he expected the American people to rise up over the false WMD, over prison torture, over free speech zones to criminalize protest: "Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?" He sits in the witness stand and the stickler judge scolds him while Alan says he's sick and tired of how every time somebody disagrees with government, they're accused of being un-American. The DA objects to this speech, Alan insists that speech is still free, the judge accuses him of breaching decorum, he quotes Adlai Stevenson on fear breeding oppression.

The jury finds Melissa guilty very quickly. To Alan's surprise the stickler judge only gives her a thousand dollar fine and a 30-day suspended sentence. She brings Alan flowers and offers to celebrate over dinner, but despite accepting a kiss, he tells her to pay her taxes. "She just kissed you?" asks Denny when he and Alan are alone. "Is she coming over later to guard your night terrors?" Alan says he's not going to pursue it -- it's a pyrrhic victory, no jail time, and what he misses most about our country is not our civil rights but our compassion, our soul, our humility. Denny objects that it is unconstitutional for the country to have a soul -- violates the separation of church and state -- and wishes that just once Alan would quote a Republican. "How about a kindler and gentler nation?" asks Alan, who is still feeling nostalgic over Melissa, as Denny is over Bev. They agree that love trumps all, and smoke. *dreamy sigh* I'd want to marry Alan if I didn't think he should marry Denny.

Wow -- I think I wrote even more about it than last week. I am so tired that I don't even know if that was coherent, let alone accurate. I'm kind of pathetic.


As you can see, the concrete step in front of our house is crumbling. We have not rushed to get it fixed because we appear to have a friend there.


Now whenever we pull up to park, we frequently see our guest. (Both these photos shot through the windshield, sorry about the glare.) I am open to suggestions for names.
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Son has very early orthodontist appointment tomorrow so he doesn't miss too much school. Must sleep!
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