And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. Anais Nin


For A Friend Who Is Gone

It is never easy to lose a friend. For me, there was beauty in being at his side and seeing peace return to his face. I am grateful.

By October
By tone

for chuck

Opening day
you don’t watch a game
instead, blue eyes stare
listen to I love you and goodbye
by Sunday, breath labors
you ride the slow slip
into unconsciousness

you’d say, I’m in a slump this season
on lime green sheets
soft flannel
in a favorite T-shirt
reads, “Baseball is Life, the rest is just details”
no homeruns
no bases loaded
you’re still running
caught between second and third
here and there

soon enough
reluctance will melt
you’ll take the tag

you wanted to slide home
after a smack of the bat
pitch right in your wheelhouse
run the diamond
extend your body
and slide
no pinch runner for you
this inning yours
fans cheer
take your time
no clock rules this game

closing in
I rewrite the slogan
“Life is Baseball”
it’s all you need to know
the record books
paint stories with endings
photos grace the walls beside your bed
Lou Gehrig and Satchel Page
prized pencil sketch of Zeke Bonura, a
student’s gift in ‘95

once you said, I don’t collect baseball cards
after buying the one of
Ferris Fain
American League’s 1951 Batting Champ
first baseman challenged
carnival fighters before
the majors
a little like you
before college smoothed the rough edges

April now
spring training over
time for dogs and beer
sun on skin
daily stats and
flippin’ off the umps

you’d say
everything about it is good,
except artificial turf
you’d say
ballparks are the real cathedrals

there won’t be a next season
so the guys, John
Lou and Mark and all
staunch fans of other teams
Cubs, Yanks, even Dodgers
steadfast and in unison
will secretly cheer your Halos

you’ll count the W’s and L’s
from a place inside the park
eyes glued to the field for the full nine
hoping to witness
one more dog pile on the mound
you always said
Ferris would’ve beat their asses
given the chance

make a wish, love
for hummingbirds in pairs
for a series title
forget about
rain delays
the DL
splintered bats

take the 7th inning stretch
others will keep your seat warm
by October
you will ride
on the shoulders
of Angels

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