Something So Simple
...this game bearing all we have of subtlety or grace.
Summer 1986, Fenway Park
packed every night, all of New England
seemed to hold its breath. Kids my age
were falling in love, stepping to the plate
like Dewey Evans, taking the mound
as Oil Can Boyd. We read the sports page
over our fathers’ shoulders, memorized
box scores and batting averages,
stayed up way past our bedtimes. It seemed
like every game they won that year
was a come-from-behind, like every game
was supposed to go to extra-innings,
like the season would never end.
We listened to Joe Castiglione,
voice of the Red Sox Radio Network
cutting through static: a swing
and a chopper to third. Boggs fields
and throws to Barrett, over to Buckner.
Five-four-three double play.
No runs, one hit, nobody left
And we go to the bottom of the ninth
with the Red Sox trailing two-one.
Commercials, we’d cross ourselves, hold
our breath, turn our caps around for luck.
Then, Rice would knock one off the wall
or Henderson would double down the line—
once, in the twelfth, the umps called a balk—
the Sox walking off with the winning run.
Everyone knows what happened at the end:
a wild pitch, a groundball, and it was done.
Nine-year-olds across New England
learned about disappointment that fall, watched
our fathers wiping tears from tired eyes
that had already seen so much loss.
But when I look back on that season
I’m convinced I heard my first poems:
a familiar voice calling out, singing
across the heavy summer nights,
a breathless rustle rising from the crowd,
the delicate crack of bat and ball.
grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of
Amherst College and the University of Oregon's Creative Writing
Program. His poems have previously appeared in Blueline, The Fourth
River, Red Rock Review,
and Tiger's Eye,
and are forthcoming in
Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.
He and his wife currently live in