Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Jeff Bernstein

Number 5

His sojourn in Beantown
ended on a Saturday
night. The phone rang
not long after with scarcely
muffled sobs of a thirteen
year old at sleep-away
camp: “Dad, did they really
trade Nomar?”

I had to admit
they really did,
sent him packing,
that red gash
he taped in front
of his locker
a Maginot line
which provided scant
protection from reporters,
the business of baseball,
GMs with ice water
in their veins.

It all started
with such promise!
He gobbled up
every grounder on the left
side of the infield
like dogs at dinnertime,
channeled his tics
into a ritual dance
that every kid
in New England
learned: fasten
and unfasten batting
gloves, step in step out,
rewind, repeat
never get old.

“Nomaa, Nomaa” we all chanted.
My father never
could pronounce
his last name.
It didn’t matter though
for his seven lucky summers.

But there must have been juices
that made his body
age so fast. Retired at 36
he is practically ancient.
No more opening day
tabla rasa, everything
new, endless
chances to rewrite
your story, last year
forgotten. Time
to head home,
lick your wounds,

A Certain Age

That 3/4 inch
pine bedboard
from Home Depot
is actually a tunnel.
scent brings back table
built for his Lionels
about a decade ago.
He dreams coal black
engine white smoke,
stack oil burns as boxcars
shake, miniature logs
on their way to a destination
they’ll pass again and again.

©2011 by Jeff Bernstein

A lifelong New Englander, Jeff Bernstein divides his time between Boston and Central Vermont. He finds back roads increasingly preferable to the city, except on summer days when he has Red Sox tickets. Recent poems have appeared in The Aurorean, Ballard Street Poetry Journal, The Burlington Poetry Journal, Concise Delight, Iodine Poetry Journal, Miller’s Pond Poetry Review, Oak Bend Review, Stone’s Throw Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, and The Oral Tradition. His poem “A Short Guide to the Proper Treatment of Maryland Blue Crabs” was a semi-finalist in last year’s Naugatuck River Review 2010 Narrative Poetry Contest. His chapbook, Interior Music, was published by FootHills Publishing. Jeff’s writer’s blog is Hurricane Lodge.

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