Monday, April 13, 2009

Bird Flown

You came ready to play
So young that a wad of bubble gum
replaced chaw in your mouth
Scouts took a chance on you
while your manager did not for the first month of the season
Once he realized you could control your pitches
and throw a 95 mile an hour fastball
that jumped past the batter
and exploded in the catcher's mitt
you were put in the rotation
By then, America noticed

They could have been scared off
by your unorthodox enthusiasm
on the mound
The way you filled in the cleat marks you made between pitches
No one had seen such stunts on the mound
since Rube Waddell chased fire engines
seventy years before

Your arm and your act put fans in the seats
Teams would beg for you to start on their turf during road trips
to see your hat fall off between pitches
only to be put on over your unruly, curly locks.
You brought your joy to the mound
and threw nothing but strikes
They were intrigued
when you flapped your arms at the start of innings
to warm yourself up
They called you The Bird
And when you began speaking to the ball
telling it
imploring it what to do before every pitch
They called you box office
And when you filled stadiums
They made you an All Star

You won nineteen games
Lost nine
Named rookie of the year
You were twenty one years old

The next spring training
While goofing off in the outfield
You tore up your knee
You tried throwing off of it too soon
And screwed up your pitching shoulder

For three or four more years
you tried to make comebacks
But the damage was done
At the age of twenty five
you went back home to Massachusetts
And became a Sports Illustrated
Where are they now story

And I was at the Olde Mohawk
watching the Cubs play
A former Columbus mayor and his wife
sitting behind me
When your face appeared on the screen
With the year of your birth
Followed by the year of your death
Fifty four is too young
Ten years older than me

And on a day when baseball announcers drop dead
in the press box
Porn stars die in double wide trailers
Friends marriages lay on fault lines
Record producers get convicted of murder
And work turned into a turf war
This was too much
Too much

But I will fight off this hitter
The way you did
Tossing down the resin bag in a cloud of talc
Grasping my pen
And telling it
what to do

For Mark Fidrych (1954-2009)


(From ESPN.com)

Wrote that at the Rumba Cafe bar tonight. Man, that one got to me.

I read there tonight at the Poetry Forum. It's a very serious group of poets. Clapping is limited. I have to say it's a great venue for poetry. Reminds me of a sixties coffeehouse where Woody Allen would do stand up or Dylan would play. Louise showed up, so WB represented - as well at Arts Fest 1/2.

Brought the A Game and read After Birth, went over well. It's rare that I get there because I have my son on Monday nights. I hope it's not another three years before I get to read there again.

2 comments:

zig said...

Sorry this is off-topic: what's happening in town this weekend?

Reason I ask is because a friend of mine and I were talking about taking the kids on a road-trip over there Friday to Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

(We'd stay in a motel though! I'll hit you up next time for crash space, when I'm solo. ;))

The Guy You Thought Was Rude said...

I honestly have no idea! I will not be back until Saturday afternoon. It's a great zoo. I have my son, but we can make some plans. Maybe the Graeter's on Bethel? You have my email, right? Get me there.