Ancient arguments about shapes
and numbers on the tip of a pin
blurred that day I darted
into tall winter wheat to find
my baseball. A mockingbird
did his Oscar-winning catbird
call seconds before a water moccasin
struck my sneaker, sent me
flying homeward. Pearly white
and black wings wafting him,
the shrill-throated bird circled,
cajoled the snake through dark
brown grass, into a chilly pond.
If Hirsute Men are not Pretty
If hirsute men are not pretty, this world never was,
and pretty is a word meant only for babies. Maybe
the curvature of the chin covered with curly hair,
dimpled, even dappled when hair clusters around
the extended jaw of an aging gent, gives the arc
of the face its exquisite edge. Here is the hallowed
place men stroke as they muse about sports stats---
or a shapely ass—the space where red wine drops,
a crumb stops, is dabbed by an omniscient napkin.
Men have such pleasure as may be found in the
subtle feel of flesh covered with bristling follicles,
feisty feelings aroused in boys with puberty fuzz,
a buzz radiating from the touch of fingers to beard.
If hirsute men are not pretty, this world never was.
(Published originally in Arabesques Review,
Under a sprawling cottonwood, a hot,
Sticky Sunday afternoon in rural Arkansas,
I hunkered down with other teen boys who
Would not abide lounging on grass or sitting
Cross-legged like girls. Harmonizing or
Humming refrains from hymns, picking
Country tunes on wooden guitars was
Alluring ---‘till Mary Jo Bryant sidled in.
She eased down, spraddled across from me.
No matter her skinny, thin thighs. The
Stunning criss-cross view was the after-
Noon’s climax. My fall backward that day
Thrust me into a new world, less brave
Than forever changed, forever charged.
Looking for the Right Angle on Baseball
On a deep green carpet baseball field,
two players warm-up, race back and forth
from dugouts to outfield. Others stretch
and stretch their limbs, legs pointed in
geometric shapes, torsos twisting, twisting.
While home run hitters strike right angle
poses, look lithe and limber by lounging
around on grass, hundreds of wide-eyed
Little Leaguers parade round and round
a gravel warning plane circling the park.
Boys and girls in rainbow colors gawk
at the cavernous park, glance nervously
as players’ workout, wonder if jumping
jacks or crunches will help them hit
the ball, throw a curve---or merely look
like muscled mannequins exercising on
grass as temperature nears one hundred.
Like A Tree Planted by Water
Two young Hispanics huddle
around the rugged dogwood.
Its cracked, scabby trunk,
withered bark pocked
like dried pustules peeling,
At a glance I see a red clay crown
circling the tree,
tap roots diving deeper
into the hard soil
the men have dug and axed
A truck, attached to the tree
by a short chain,
idles as the two again try
to dislodge the stump.
One man mounts the truck,
revs its engine,
his head hanging out the window,
At once, a yelling contest between
driver and digger seems
in medias res.
What do I know of
the tenacity of beauty.
A tree planted prior to Watergate,
surviving hurricanes and drought,
seems unlikely to let go easily
even for two earnest men
with unfavorable grins,
suspect green cards.