(after Whitey Ford, 1953)
Suddenly, it’s Whitey Ford, the bankrupt banker,
Groping under stars, testing dry turf for green.
Painting corners with elegant ease, sliders, screw-jees.
Nothing fat on the black. Nothing to look at. As if you could.
Rubbers foams a mile-wide into his stretch.
Resin grooms the seat of his quaint left glove.
Its moulting folds mounds of dust about bluehair.
Rattles in gravel pinstripe. Eyetraps bluesand.
Whitey Ford: Resin, rubber, methodical obelisk.
Never without illusion. In the realm of quiet curves,
Sublime cutters, business is always trenchant business.
A little glop on top, not-quite-kosher, off-speed, fetching.
There are no bunkers on his side of the hill,
Only a glib white shriek breaking the night,
Breaking the heart of chaste yeoman and serf
Who still cling to clubs and oblivion.
But there is no oblivion in the Bronx,
Only debt, and death, every fifth night.