a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
like it’s the Indy 500,
banks right onto Ainsworth
like it’s going somewhere
as if there is anywhere to go.
My wife says stop being so dark
and I say darkness
and I say sweetness
and I say slow down
but the Fed Ex truck is doing 90 down South
then coming back with a busted muffler to introduce itself.
The packages rattle and fall off the back of the truck
like the children fall off the back of the truck.
I saw a black one and a Chinese one and a Jewish one and a Muslim one, bounce.
They were all bouncing,
like my daughter’s Technicolor ball she got at Walmart to get her anger out.
Everyone is angry and I sit here and watch the children collide off of parked cars,
bouncing, my daughter bouncing,
and I just sit here. All day long I sit here.
The Fed Ex driver is my friend, Ed, and I say Ed, slow down.
I am trying to toss him a bottle of cold water.
It’s so hot the tires on his truck melt. He’s doing 75 up Bradford on rims
and the sparks are flying, ricocheting off the church steps and the clouds.
It’s the 4th of July.
It’s the 4th day of the year.
It’s the 4-month of the lock down.
We’re all pissed off and my wife says,
stop sitting around and do something.
So, I bounce off my porch and run down the street
dodging the Fed Ex truck to retrieve the children.
I can’t retrieve the children.
They are half way into their own.
I have tried so long to keep people safe by being kind.
Ed, on the 6th trip up this street, finally catches the iced cold 12 oz. Poland Spring,
blows me a kiss and more kids fall off the truck.
The short one and fat one and purple one and monster one and the one with pretty toenails and the smart one who knows math.
Maybe they’ll figure out the algorithm to slow everything down, the anger, the lockdown,
the kind of meanness I thought didn’t exist
till I saw my kid bounce her ball so hard
it hit the top of a mountain and, swear to God, knocked off all the snow.
away in a corner surrounded by woods.
You get a right-handed batter with a mean cut, foul,
or a 315 shot,
and the ball is lost.
Today, I am the ball,
unfound in the woods
tucked away in the corner of Brophy Field,
some run down middle-school baseball diamond
that is perfect.
Dandelions like stars, everywhere.
Clippings from last week’s mow, brown.
Home plate, solid,
and the pitcher’s mound, too,
buried deep in the scorched earth.
I saw it from the road, pulled into the lot,
and walked out to left field.
It’s the left field of Endy Chavez
and high school and summer camp.
It’s the left field of the fascists and liberals and gun runners and gangsters
and little kids named Brenda and Dave and Javier and Marisol and Matthew
all of who stood out and waited and ran and dove and got bored and, mostly,
spent hours in the grass, watching the grass,
waiting on the sound off the bat, waiting for their moment.
Today, the world’s moment is a carousel gone off the rails.
There is bird shit everywhere and everywhere we are lost.
Left field is not lost.
Left field is never lost.
It’s always where it’s supposed to be, in left.
Left of center, edge of the diamond
bordering the woods
where balls go gone
and sometimes little boys, for a second,
disappear into the green to make the catch,
to retrieve the ball.
And when they emerge
sometimes they are still little boys
and sometimes they’ve been gone so long
they return as men.
Me, I stood out there today in the blistering heat with no baseball glove or cap
to speak of.
I was right where I was supposed to be,
on the team of the earth,
and the birds and the trees did their thing
and left does its thing, being left,
no matter how many foul balls of history get swallowed up
into the forest primeval.
Matthew Lippman’s collection MESMERIZINGLY SADLY BEAUTIFUL won the 2018 Levis Prize and is published by Four Way Books. He has published 5 other collections of poems including The New Year of Yellow, Salami Jew, American Chew, Monkey Bars, and A Little Gut Magic. He is the Editor and Founder of the web-based project Love’s Executive Order (www.lovesexecutiveorder.com).