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A poem from the past II

Here's another poem that turned up while I've been going through files. This one I've edited from the version I first wrote 25 years ago.

Away Game

the Lisbon of Henry the Navigator
     cobblestones, tiles with the colors of isolation,
          baleful pigs on a truck

romantic Lisbon on the Atlantic
     where endeth land and where beginneth …

no one to talk to
     blisters (why these shoes?)
          alone, travel’s effort not adventure

hotel TV: smarmy British game show
     Bogart flick with Portuguese subtitles
          & suddenly baseball

heaves into sight
     so unexpected it takes a beat
          to recognize Pirates & Mets

I hold my breath
     top of the first.      ecstasy:
          two hours

to lay around      Lisbon far off
     Zane Smith sets the Mets down on 3 pitches
          wait!      I get it:

three shown pitches
     the inning has more
          (of course).

top of the second:
     fly out, ground out, fly out, Mets gone.
          the same each inning:

TV shows only the pitch that “matters”
     game cut adrift
          more foreign than the black widows of Portugal

outside dark men
     hurry home to garlic soup
     how to dream of a New World

of baseball and brigands and staying away
     a pitch or 2 from Frank Viola
          & that’s the third

the game skips isolate to the ninth in 20 minutes
     the Pirates have six hits but I’m granted
          only the outs.      the moment of the out.

where’s the baserunning, spitting, conference on the mound?
     who’s catching this near-baseball but a blue American?
          I grab the next flight out of Lisbon

even in November the baseball’s better at home
     I could never be an exile
          being bored only works at the ballpark

the slow sailing patches
     the circumnavigations
          as essential as the finds

what is baseball
     but the time it takes
          to drag & slide through a game

as much live your life in two hours
     of highlights.      the likeness
          to a human world back home

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