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Tony Gruenewald

Curt Flood

"I'm pleased God made my skin black. I wish He had made it thicker."
                     -- Curt Flood

It wasn't
just the nightly torrent of taunts
from fans and teammates alike,
or the Jim Crow restrooms,
restaurants, and motels during
the long rickety Southern League bus rides
that finally broke the 19 year old rookie from
the slums of Oakland in 1957.

It was between games of a doubleheader;
everyone stripped their sweaty, dusty flannels
and left them in a pile
to be quickly laundered
for the nightcap.

He watched the clubhouse attendant approach
the pile with a long stick,
fishing his uniform away
from his teammates' and
at arms length
carry it
to the Colored Only cleaners
across town.

While his teammates took the field
in their freshly laundered flannels
he sat alone,

impenetrable godwit bloodbath

                     (subject line of an e-mail spam)

What could this be, sent by
the mythical LaDonna Ott,
obviously an alias for a
counter terrorism super agent?

A warning about a fundamentalist
organization beyond the knowledge
of Homeland Security or even Fox News,
training in Starbuckistan or some other
former Soviet state desperate for some
world stage attention, its baristas
infiltrating, sneaking caffeinated
contraband past baggage check

to loose lethal intifada into
the lattes of Los Angeles,
Las Vegas, the Louvre or some
other L-place the codebreakers and
translators haven't quite been able to

©2004 by Tony Gruenewald

Tony Gruenewald earns his keep as an Assistant Studio Director and Communications Coordinator for the New Jersey Unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. In previous lives he has worked in radio journalism and advertising and, if all else fails, still has his Teamsters card. His work has been seen in The New York Times, The Edison Literary Review, Caffeine, U.S. 1, Adbusters, Slow Trains and other mostly defunct publications.

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