jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “baseball”

national anthem


baseball game streaming
live on a.m. radio
I’m in my bedroom
in full uniform
practicing my grip
on brand new ash bat

not too tight but not too light
coach would tell me
you should see how robinson
and aaron and banks get it done

this is all before cable television
and all I got to go by
is how the announcer on the
radio calls it
unwittingly explaining to boys
how men of color
are quietly changing society
one integrated game at a time




june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

vacationing in Colorado


I’m not going there
she said
can you please change the channel
there must be more to life
than current events
sapping all your energy

we had just sat down
at a local dispensary
having ordered two craft beers
and a bowl of purple sensimilla
the remote control to the TV
directly overhead
within arms reach

what about the Rockies game
I suggested
do you consider pro baseball
current events

that all depends upon who
they’re playing
she answered
not to mention how quickly this weed
will make me not care about anything





april two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

when winter comes


the winter solstice is a week away
yet here am I
sitting in the bleachers with my mother
some forty years ago
watching my brother’s baseball game

it’s late august and it’s a night game
and he’s playing center field
chasing down any fly ball hit
anywhere near his vicinity
and I tell my mother how he
reminds me of Willie Mays

I had a little league game earlier in the day
but I’m still dressed in uniform
dirty pants and dirty face
dirty fingernails and dirty hair

before the sun goes down mosquitoes
land on my tanned and barren arms
and I pinch my skin where they are feasting
until my blood overwhelms their tiny bodies

by the time the ballpark lights take full effect
the temperature begins to dip
lower and lower
until eventually I cross my arms
slightly shivering

are you cold my mother asked me

yes I am I replied

oh my goodness she said
what will you do when winter comes




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

out of time


flashing back to sixty-nine
miracle mets ruining my summer
and the ensuing autumn
forever stamped as an asterisk
in my playbook

in november I received
a green single-speed schwinn
for my birthday
but was forced to postpone
its maiden voyage
until the late february thaw

it was a long and lonely winter
(that much I remember)
and I was afraid
even then
that I was going to run out of time

how little did I know




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

inner city haiku baseball


full moon with stitches
off-white and slowly revolving
like a knuckleball

in the alleyways
pick-up games start at daybreak
broomsticks and duct tape

tying run at plate
runners at every corner
bus driver pitching

final shot arcing
sailing over skyscrapers
shooting for the moon




september two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

two out in the top of the first


I’m standing fuming on the mound
head looking up and cleats kicking dirt
pissing and moaning underneath my breath

coach and catcher are stepping toward me
the former tapping his left forearm
the latter blowing a bazooka joe bubble

they stop a few feet away from earshot
in order to have a fifteen second conversation

cheers and jeers from the raucous crowd
come in loud and clear
and I can only imagine how they hate
to see me go so soon

I’ve been in town for less than a day now
and already I hate this fucking place




june two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

no time for baseball


it’s the bottom of the ninth
and nobody’s keeping score
and though the lights are on
the stadium is nearly empty

in the comfort of my own home
I can’t reach the game on am radio
instead switch to fm and listen to
jimi hendrix covering bob dylan

early morning news feed arrives
bold headlines scream no-hitter
followed by abbreviated stories
regurgitating tales of mass destruction

weatherman breaks in unannounced
low lying fog chemically unbalanced
possibly canceling the school day
if not the entire baseball season




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

crickets singing in the basement


playoff game streaming inside
television set connected to the internet
sound muted in favor of tom petty’s
sirius xm radio channel 31

crickets in the basement seem to be
keeping time with each selection
undoubtedly unaware of the
natural order of things

how they made their way into the house
I have a pretty good idea
and as the game moves into later innings
I begin to wonder how they’ll
ever find their way back home



october two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

trying to be less informed


everybody’s keeping score
whether it be with chips or dowels
bowling pins or price of gasoline
pegged to some financial instrument

man made natural disasters
don’t go down by happenstance
official recordkeeper bullied & bloodied
quarantined for centuries
rats and cockroaches running amok
inside and out and multiplying

everyone knows how it all ends
so what’s the point in keeping score
especially when there’s a perfectly good
baseball game streaming live
just about anywhere you can order a beer



september two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

working through the off-season


she stitched and sewed all winter long
meticulously
almost feverishly
covering cork and rubber and yarn with
whatever kind of hide she could find
having promised her boys of summer
the only way they would not play ball
would be due to the most severe
inclement weather



april two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Revolutionary béisbol


They put Castro on waivers and
brought up his little nephew
to replace him
but only trouble is
neither could manage
to hit their weight

Last time the southsiders came
to town they filled the seats
and then some
even the Hilton across the street
was brimming with Americans in
balconies drinking Bucaneros
and smoking Cubans

But back home things were different
for this makeshift
patched together band of brothers
and if they have visions
of putting together a postseason run
it’ll never happen without
reigniting their fan base
desperate for a full-blown
revolutionary assault
including nickel hot dogs
and peso beer nights



august two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

it rarely rains at the coliseum


it was getaway day at the coliseum
and dogs and soda and suds were
all half-price

there were lots of suits commingled
among many of the more casually enthusiastic fans
and even the public address announcer wondered
if any of the banks were open for business

some early inning runs quickly increased
concession sales

late comers rushed to the beer tent
before finding their seats

the rookie southpaw had a no-hitter
going into the fifth
and the place was all abuzz
like it hadn’t been in years

the afternoon matinée couldn’t have been
more perfect
until the roar of the crowd
called forth the god of rain delays
who just wouldn’t go away

and gradually (but with a fight)
the stadium lost all its life
as if nothing had ever happened



may two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

good riddance to october rain


I don’t remember autumn being this wet
she said

I blinked my eyes and looked outside
thinking to myself what an
absurd thing to say

it’s not that wet I said it’s just an illusion

it’s wet enough they canceled tonight’s
baseball game she said

real men play in the rain I said

you’re an idiot she said and walked away

I raised my glass and made a silent toast
to rid the world of absurdity
and rainy october nights



october two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

waiting on deck


september’s death
rests inside a fielder’s glove
her final breaths elongated
lilting and fading
elegantly purposeful

she would not be happy
knowing what follows next
her boys of summer in full costume
exhaling the uncertain air and
parading out past twilight
clumsily swatting bats




september two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

triple-header


out in the field we wielded sickles
carving weeds into baselines
and summer into baseball

when word got out about the
neighborhood transformation
prospects from near and far arrived by
foot and on bike with gloves and caps
and bubble gum and bats

curious seekers trickled in
spectating the self-governed exhibitions
sitting on lawn chairs and blankets
munching popcorn and cracker jack
and sipping five cent lemonade

as the winning run crossed the plate
dinner bells could be heard
echoing through the streets
a signal of sorts to choose two new teams
followed by the first pitch to the third
and final game


june two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

summer wasn’t summer without baseball


out of the fields and onto my bike
glove and spikes
strapped on the rack
I race through the cemetery shortcut
straight to the diamond

to get away was to get away
from the house of rules
where the master
made sure it was okay to disappear
as long as the work was done

transformed into a collective whole
I become one of many parts
dreaming to be the hero
while trying not to make an error
examining the stitches
hand-sewn on my pants
as well as the fastball
playing music beneath my chin



april two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

on getting to first base


she caught me smiling
and pretended she really
never glanced my way

in a bout of bravery I decided
to get up from the patio table
and walked over to hers
and asked her softly
why she had looked my way

oh you reminded me of someone
she began
someone I once met in cincinnati

have you ever been to cincinnati
she asked me
batting her eyes and using her slender
index finger to flick off the long ash
from her virginia slim

no I said
I never have but I once promised myself
I’d like to become a speck in a sea of red
at the stadium there on the ohio river
and catch a foul ball with my bare hands

that sounds like fun she said
why don’t you sit down and share with me
more of your baseball fantasies


january two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

unlucky in love


he sits in his lazy boy chair
and yells at the umpire on TV who
keeps getting all the calls wrong
exhaling cheap cigar smoke
while putting down old style beer
in 12 ounce gulps

in the other room his partner
in crime fixes potato salad
to go with his pastrami on rye
saddened at the thought
mister james gandolfini
has left her lonely world



june two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

west coast swing


there’s nothing wrong with my eyes
you son-of-a bitch sitting
in the fourth row behind the dugout

I just had them checked the other day

I bought a new jesus crucifix and replaced
the chain with gold leather lace
took it over to the nearest church
and had the padre bless the damn thing

“I watched you on television the other night” he said
“you’re uppercutting everything”

no shit sherlock I said to myself
and thanked him and got the hell out of there

that night I went oh for four and struck out three times

we lost again on getaway day and I spent
the afternoon warming the bench
cheering on the guys and happy knowing
my average wasn’t going to drop again

“you know” said the boss “you should consider
shaving off that seven-day beard

“and as soon as we get home buy your sweetie
some roses and ask her nicely if she’d kiss
the tips of your bats”



may two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

reverse psychology


on opening day
vegas future odds
for the winning the world series
has the chicago cubs
at eighty to one
the same as the pirates
and the mariners
and right behind
the new york mets

wish I could say
I’ve got the fever
but now into my fifth decade
of blindly following
the lovable ones
I’ve since grown jaded
often pondering
if there is more to life
than mere losing


march two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

cheers to the minor league siren


it was a sunday afternoon
and me and my gal sat at the bar
tipping pabst blue ribbons
while across the street
the crowd gathered into the stadium
for a doubleheader matinée

the flat screens hanging on the walls
aired most of the afternoon games
the sound muted by the country music
streaming from the jukebox

look my gal said pointing at one of the games
templeton is pitching for saint louis
i used to let him screw me you know

he played across the street
when he was just a baby she said
and i took him under my wing
and taught him a thing or two

yeah right i said
you’re dreaming again
holding two fingers up across the bar

my ass holds secrets you cannot imagine
she said and then lifted her glass
just above her still seductive eyes
waiting for me to do the same



march two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

no-hitter


fifty plus thousand baseball fans
rise to their feet
chanting one more out
their collective roar absorbed
into every player on the field
including the umpires
baseline coaches
and the chubby little bat boy

on the mound the pitcher
winds up like a whirling dervish
his eyes hiding below
the bill of the cap
his left leg rising
unrealistically
his first two fingers
gripping the ball along the seams

once released
this soon to be historic fastball
zips sixty and a half feet
in point four five seconds
smacking the catcher’s circular mitt
untouched and in the zone
causing a chain reaction
of pyrotechnic explosions
and dizzying exuberance


march two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

i found a box of old poems


the poetry i wrote ages ago
doesn’t belong to me anymore

the person that wrote those lines
of despair and shame and utter honesty
has long been gone

it’s almost as if he died from self-inflicted wounds
from too much booze and tabacco
and whoring around
from not giving a shit about work
or baseball
or forgetting to buy chocolate and roses
on valentine’s day

reading page after page of the drivel
i want to tear them to pieces
but something inside me
won’t let it happen
because deep down i’m in love with the words
that used to bring me joy knowing my misery
was no different than yours




february two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

casey’s dream


in the dream moses
splits the field of dreams
and turns a bush
into a bonfire in the center
of centerfield

notables like mantle
and cobb and simon peter
chew redman and spit
into the fire
casting pearls before swine
and laughing like little girls



january two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Day Tripper


I jumped off a boxcar
in downtown Kansas City
made my way
to 18th and Vine
where Satchel Paige
pitched a complete game
at Blues Stadium

With just enough dough
for two quarts of Colt 45
and Cracker Jack
I basked in the sun
keeping score and
losing my voice cheering
on the Monarchs

Down to my last nickel
I walk toward the whistle
cold and sober
tired and hungry
needing to steal a ride
and a good night’s sleep
back to Chicago



august two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Minor League Ritual


Exactly one hour before the game
the young player leaves his mother
for the solitude of his bedroom
on a late Saturday morning.

Closing the door behind him
he walks past prior year trophies
of Louisville sluggers atop silver bases
spanning across the dresser.

His lucky number seven uniform
lies across the double bed
nearly spotless except for stains
detergents will never call out.

Transforming himself bit by bit
from stirrups and pants to jersey and cap
his mind centers on catch and throw
on aluminum bat ripping cowhide.



june two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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