SAN JOSE SLUGGER (or How I Beat Baseball)

When I stepped up to home plate, my friends
jeered, “end of the line-up–“easy out Warner”
coaxing one another, smug in possibility
my tsunami swings and indifferent strikes,
caught wind—not wood—against a ball,
lacked crucial merit shaped and measured
by batter acuity.

Ah, I credited baseball, it molded character,
taught me to blend in; I chewed tobacco flavored gum,
hocked major loogies, spat like the best of pros,
adjusted phantom jockstraps, and, if anyone noticed,
scratched my crotch with alacrity and aplomb;
stadium mystique mastered, sans pinstripe pants
still flashing a zero ERA.

Young and clever, planting tomorrow’s seeds,
supple, I was, so wont to make a difference,
paralytic popularity assured me distraction:
I predictably broke windows practicing pitches,
claiming last chosen player’s privilege proud,
humoring ballgame bullies, pulling them off-guard,
my BB vengeance bided time.

Now as I grew up amid Bay Area boasters,
World Series soothsayers reverently foretold
a National League victory—Giants in ’62;
I, alone, picked the Yankees to win game seven,
backed-up my hunch, bet thirty peers a quarter,
walked home, pockets jingling, an American
Pastime winner uncontested.