Works in Progress
Hesitations: a book of poems
Called from the bullpen in the ninth
Leroy Paige contemplates the hesitations
enough to placate the blues, maybe
a bad woman inside, the door locked,
a man wanting in from the cold,
a question from an old bottleneck guitar
wanting to know Can I get you now, or
what’s the score, how many’s on,
who’s the hitter?
An old medley here ―
tied, loaded, and DiMaggio.
Oh, hesitation stockings,
Every note a step to avoid the chalk line,
or something worse.
Looking for shadows,
Lord, Lord, and angles,
baby needs a pair of shoes.
What’s the hitter looking into,
what’s the sun doin'?
Just no-count hangin' round.
And what’s the wind got to say,
the hesitation news,
Like a gutbucket guitar, maybe a woman
at the bar, standin' there saying,
Yeah, Eagle on that dolla,
“In God we trust,”
sayin’ everything ‘cept
what she’s gonna do.
Wanna a man, she say,
but gotta seea dolla fust.
A fast ball outside, another in,
a couple strikes, still need a sign.
Relief’s an old song, three lines,
a refrain, across the seams two or four,
hands at the belt holdin' still,
fingers flappin' on that big glove
like a mean woman’s jaws,
like waving to somebody in the third row,
a woman with big eyes smiling,
yeah, or at some other dude.
Then over the top, stretched out,
long stride, foot down, arm back,
full arm speed, and a hesitation,
something real that’s not there.
I may be old, may be dumb,
got more pitches
than Wrigley got gum.
The ball fading,
a sinking inspiration,
knee high, outside, a bit of spin,
the Clipper watching, waiting,
hesitating, too long, too late,
the refrain, the call,
a new song of old words,
and Satch singing,
the onliest way he knows,
how long I gotta wait?
How long it gonna take?
Can I get you now
or must I hesitate?
Leroy moseying off the field
walking to the dugout, laughing,
steppin’ over the chalk line,
telling about how it's done
to somebody, yeah anybody
who wants to listen.
You want hear me tell?
Sometimes you gotta know
how to make what you got