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Poetry Friday: "Out in left field for the Canadian poets' baseball league" by Michael Estok

Paradise Garage, Michael EstokThe baseball season is in full swing! But for some, poetry holds an allure that organized sports cannot compete with.

This Poetry Friday, we turn our gaze to that fairly rare (but vastly important) intersection of childhood, literature, peer pressure, and sports.

Please enjoy Michael Estok's sensitive exploration of growing up poetically inclined in a childhood community of sports enthusiasts, "Out in left field for the Canadian poets' baseball league," from his 1987 collection Paradise Garage.

Now go outside and enjoy the day. And bring some poetry along, just in case. 


Out in left field for the Canadian poets' baseball league

No rich kids ran the gangs
in our sun flat prairie town

I grew up cursing openness

We played the usual schoolyard games
picked sides, drew lines with elbows,
fists and teeth on the hard dirt,
beat paths in the scroungy grass
(while weeds quietly overtook flowerbeds, gardens,
and the slow wound of the sun's everyday death
stranded all our fences in its corrosive tide.)

We were never any good at rules.
All we heard above the roaring bell of the wind
was the score a tough enough shout could keep.

I spat blood
and stayed in at recess,
scrawling poems about revolutionary disasters
and the quick deaths of tyrants,
then tore them up and let them sail,
hopeless explorers north,
from the frail cave of the schoolroom window.

The introverted politics of poetry
still surprises me
at streetcorners, over telephones and backyard gates,
in a leveling game with my place and season,
I am caught in the race for home,
for words,
and hear
my own sudden, angry, inarticulate voice,
like a smash in the face from the newest kid in the grade
establishing his class.

 

baseball Michael Estok Poem Poetry Friday

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