Baseball Dreams In memory of Jack Marsh, second baseman, Yale University, 1943
Before the bayonet replaced the bat, Jack Marsh played second base for Yale; his spikes anchored into the August clay, his eyes set deep against the setting sun.
The scouts all knew his numbers well, had studied his sure hands that flew like hungry gulls above the grass; but Uncle Sam had scouted too,
had chosen first the team to play the season's final game of '44, had issued him another uniform to wear into the face of winter moon
that shone upon a snowy plain where players played a deadly game, where strikes were thrown with each grenade and high pitched echoes linger still,
beyond the burned out foreign fields and boyhood dreams of bunts and steals, young Jack Marsh is rounding third, and sliding, sliding safely home.
It happens every year from autumn to spring, a dozen or so are lost, good ole boys every one; boys from Butler County, Bibb, Clarke and Cullman, boys from Bullock and Clay, boys who stay up late every November evening rubbing oil and dreams into the steel of old guns, boys who leave warm homes to walk cold woods, forever.
The Bowman’s Hand
“A 15-year-old athlete died of cardiac arrest from a high school friend’s punch in the chest during a classroom ‘cuss game’ popular with students. Witnesses said he complimented his opponent on the ‘good hit,’ then died.” --The Birmingham News
The game over, the target rests on the ground; but the heavy hand of the standing boy will carry the weight of this dark moment
into the bull's-eye of memory, into the corners of every swollen night. This is the hand that will open and close
too many times before it sleeps, before it catches that first star, shines it bright within its praying palm,
puts it back into the black heaven of boyhood. This is the hand that will shade the eyes that study the sky for a cloudless past,
the hand that will grip and hold the burning weight of growing old. This is the hand that will not rest in peace,
that will not heal the broken arrow, that will not lose its quiver; the hand that will shake inside
the hand of too many smiling strangers. This is the hand that will caress a sleeping son named after his father’s brave young friend,
after the one untouched by time, untouched by the sharpness of age, by the point of a pointless game.
This time it will be different. This time we will not go like our bovine brothers
one by one down the ramp, head first through the chute into the slaughterhouse,
into the waiting slug of night. This time we will rouse the herd, we will rise from our dung
drenched funeral boards, we will sway from side to side in our heavy wave of defiance,
we will dance our rite to life, we will rock and roll this cattle car right off its clacking tracks.