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Earl J. Wilcox (email)


About the Poet:

Earl J. Wilcox, a late bloomer poet, began publishing poetry well into his 70s, little more than five years ago. He writes about Southern culture, baseball, aging, birding, the natural world, among other subjects. His work appears in more than two dozen online and print journals. Some 50 of his poems are in THE NEW VERSE NEWS, a progressive political ezine. More of his poetry can be seen at his blog, Writing by Earl. 




Baseball Angel


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,

July, 2006)





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,

resists uprooting.


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

and picked.


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,

hands waving.

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.