OLD STICKBALL AND STOOPBALL SLICKSTERS *
I stood on the same stoop that beckoned me soon after my diaper days.
Simpler days when life delivered new laughs, friends, and surprises every sunrise.
I’d stood on that once monstrous stoop while Dad pointed out Santa
and his reindeer streaking across Brooklyn’s ice-cold Christmas Eve sky.
A wide-eyed six year old, I’d bought into that fantasy tale.
My Dad convinced me that I’d seen old St. Nick on his gift run, above Brooklyn’s Bridge.
In my beardless years my stoop served as a podium, where I’d chatted with my silent moon.
The same brick stair now sprawled out well into the 21st century and continued to ignore me.
The stoop’s leprosy-like masonry resembled my lined and cratered face.
The tired and peeling front door remained blanketed by annual layers of paint,
Similar to aging humans in my half-century separation, the stoop shriveled too.
My Brooklyn stickball and stoop ball legends from the past faded into eternity.
All proved casualties of the book of days, along with their suitcases overloaded with shattered
dreams flavored by reverence to DiMaggio, Koufax, Kaline, Say Hey, and Jackie.
Revisiting my childhood home spiked me with thick layers of melancholy.
I sprawled on the tired wrinkled stoop, hoping to feel some sense of welcome.
The classic black DeSoto motorcar, once reminiscent of the exotic cats
protecting Pharaoh’s tombs, no longer lounged in front of its seasoned bricks.
Today pretenders, anorexic, runty cars squatted on DeSoto’s reserved parking platform.
Dreams of my athletic glory at Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium spawned on this stairway.
My trusted rubber ball and its partner, the slouching street light also served as props needed to play thru endless night games.
During those sweaty Brooklyn trolley days, life as basic as a broom stick,
a Spaldeen rubber ball, a schoolyard wall, a tarred street, and a stoop to rebound tosses.
After marathon games, the stoop served as a stage where we clowned with friends, re-measured distances of stickball homers not by feet, but far away sewers.
Tonight, a score of years into the new century, those lightning-bug nights illuminate my mind.
The speedy boy who once occupied my frame and had pounded the brick stoop
with flurries of rubber balls now moves like a drunken bear on a skateboard.
I reminisce about bygone stickball games and my stoop hosting her lovingly abusive pals:
Allegro Alberto, a Stan the Man Musial fan, sleeps eternally in some Asian bog.
Chunky Cal, a Campanella devotee, briefly heard the roars of stadium crowds until
a rogue baseball delivered a flurry of stars to his right eye and shattered his diamond dream.
Shotgun lefty legend Capp, who fancied himself a Herb Score clone, was stabbed by a sore arm.
Now others strain to plant flowers over his resting place at slumbering speeds.
Loony Louie, a disciple of Durocher, stumbled onto an epiphany.
Today, he’s Gentle Lou of the cloth and collar.
Slugger Sue, first pick in our games, abandoned the stoop once enchanted by the balance beam.
My Big Bro, designer of the Preacher Roe loop in my curve ball, tosses with Gabriel’s angelic team.
My task today is to scrub the flaking, tired brick stairway of my primary school years and to
prepare it for 21 st Century replacement kids.
I never would have imagined that someday I’d be squatting on my Pop’s sacred spot and resurrecting past memories.
Engrossed by exciting visions, while savoring fragments of Spaldeen-centered days,
I begin an impromptu dance celebrating my “This is Your Life” moment.*