We can’t see them, these hollow beings,
That join our adaptation of the game,
When there are too few players
Able to occupy the bases and hit in turn.
Ever there and ever ready, they join us,
Quietly taking their bases with each swing,
Ready to advance one, two, or three at a time,
As our hits move them around the diamond,
Square to square, as a chess player guides
Each piece with purpose across the board.

We never know if one runner wears shorts,
Or sweats or woolen baseball pants,
Pulled up to the knee so the stirrups,
Striped or solid, tucked in metal or plastic cleats,
Stretch high to color shins and calves.
We never know if they’re fast or slow,
Hobbled or in perfect health,
Stocky and strong or lanky and loose,
Hustlers running all-out on every play,
Or lollygaggers unwilling to push too hard.

We do know they leave the trash-talking
And the arguing to their real teammates,
On a tiny field somewhere in the Milky Way,
Our stars shining bright in our automatic games.
Or maybe, just maybe, the joke’s on us,
Who are not moving silent runners around bases,
But pitching and swinging on que,
Doing the bidding of those in a parallel universe,
Or a far-off galaxy, where they are wondering about us,
The true imaginary men, mutely playing in their games.