The wrist snaps, the ball flies
Its motion so perfectly imperfect
If Newton had seen it
He would have written poetry

All of my life I have studied curve balls
Sharp breaking curves that fall off a table
And explode in a cloud of dust
Or roundhouse hanging curves
Transparent and certain
Or tight twisters
Surprising and deceptive
Thumping the mitt of Larry Nero or Phil Chenier
Thrown by Chenier or Nero
Witnessed from my position at second
Waiting to scoop an occasional grounder

The target is my left ear
Tender and warm in the July sun
Where Phil and I play strikeout
Against the green backstop
On the playground at LeConte

It’s all a matter of instinct
Overcoming one and becoming another
Trusting beyond good judgement
But this kid throws a big hook
The tennis ball a plaything in his man’s hand

From second base I played witness
Chenier to Nero or Nero to Chenier
Seventeen straight victories, untouchable
No-hitters and one-hitters the rule
Berkeley Champs 1962