I originally wrote this poem for my grandfather, not pictured below (the one picture we have from him in the Toledo Blade needs to be scanned in), who played in Toledo then college. A strong lefty who had a lot of promise, my grandfather’s injury seemed to end him.
This poem probably scares people away at the beginning, but I love the sound, rhythm, and subtext, but the 2nd and 3rd stanzas are more narrative and, I think, capture something only poetry can capture.
Dreamers Are Gluttons
There is a place for us,
the bedraggled, befuddled, joyless creatures
anemic with the hepatic urge to take on dreams
before bodies blush with cold
and slowly dissolve into the blue
themselves. We turn the note
of tongue’s sugar into a glazed whisper
coat the ears of our dying
with a verveless, inebriated language none
understand. I’m not ashamed to say it, the man
in the picture was beautiful: dark eyes, wavy hair, loose
uniform on a solid frame, ramiform fingers
knuckling the ball,
cocksure and confident
that he had it, the it most men fear
never quite grasping – that sense of purpose – but,
that was before the Yankees sent him to college, before
the shoulder let loose of itself,
before the dock accident, before
his son could hide his disappointment.
Now it’s Pal Malls window-side,
one eye on the threshold spying for the orderly,
slow on order
and slower on denying the dying anything,
the other eye on the night sky
looking for the rumor of his glorious past
which is like smelling ghost-shit in a hospital bed.
Darkness to light, hand to mouth, the simple motion
sustains him as he daydreams of the game, the cold
beer, the surfeit of admiration
a son offers a father for the perfect
strike, perfect meal, perfect piggy back.
Defining sadness with synonyms
is the cruelest thing we have ever done.