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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Featuring Tim Peeler

Here’s a preview of some work from Tim Peeler’s upcoming third book of baseball poems titled Wild in the Strike Zone.


My dad’s magical thinking
Transported him beyond reality.
He believed his sons would
Be major leaguers, and that
Having not worked out,
He believed his grandsons
Would be major leaguers;
Then he eventually believed
That he might just have been
A major leaguer at some point,
About the same time he became
Convinced that someone
Had moved him to the wrong house
During the middle of the night
And had carefully placed
All his furniture where it was
When we sat and talked about it,
And he also believed when
He called me at three in the morning
That if I left my house immediately
And came over to his to transpose
His life story that his chances
Of being elected to the hall of fame
In honor of his major league
Pitching career might be improved
So I drove forthwith and arrived
With an ink pen and notebook,
After which I sat and he began,
I was born on a dirt farm
Next to a muddy creek
In rural Rowan County
And I wrote it down
As outside I could hear
The roar of the crickets
And inside I could hear
The buzz of the fluorescent light.


Sunlight sewn across the field
Like millions of perfect teeth
You could not settle to watch
The one who never fit in
And you knew that God made him
That God distributed burdens
To those who could handle them
And you heard his mother pray
When it came his time to hit
He stood there confused leaning
Bat on his shoulder watching
A strike then a ball then a
Strike as your stomach tightened
And you hoped with all you had
Uttering your own quick prayer
But he swung late like the gate
That closes after the cows
Are all gone and his mother
Felt angry then bitter and
She turned away as if he
Were someone else’s boy.


Kids just went where they wanted then;
There wasn’t a rec center or little league,
But the mill hill boys had a team,
The town school boys had their teams,
And we’d walk two or three miles
To a school playground or a vacant lot
Big enough to put out rocks for bases,
And maybe somebody’s older brother
Would umpire from behind the pitcher,
And the ball would be one stolen
From outside the college field
By a boy who had his ass beat
On the first try but somehow escaped.
Three or four guys had gloves that
We shared with the other team
So that everybody but the outfielders
Had one, and the catcher might be
Beaten to a pulp or busted in the nuts,
But the game went on till the first
Team scored twenty runs and then
A fight usually commenced
Till we got so tired of cussing and punching
That we limped back to the hill
Full of victory and the anticipation
Of the next Saturday and the next
Till the day we’d have to go to high school
With those town boys and we’d
Be fighting them again
For their girlfriends.


The two mill towns hated each other
And they packed old Webb Field
On a Sunday afternoon in the 20’s,
Women dressed in their finest,
Dresses and hats, men in Sunday suits,
Yet there were bottles and knives
And bets aplenty so when the ump
Called a hometown boy out at the plate
In the bottom of the first, they began
To move down from the stands
Toward each other wielding weapons,
And just before the first blows landed,
A rain erupted, biblical in its ferocity,
Four or five inches deep on the field,
And the crowd fled in their ruined finery,
Walking to their lookalike rental houses
Only a few blocks away where
It had not rained a drop.

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