wrigley field 1
Baseball Before the Apocalypse
by Leah Mueller

Cluster of bodies, soap
bubbles at a Cubs game:
1983, our bicycles shackled
to poles outside, entwined in

a steel snare. To saw through
tempered metal would
give thieves the pick of several.

We smuggled imported
beer in white bottles, eight
bucks a pack, and salads
in sturdy plastic containers
from the Bread Shop.

Bleacher seats three dollars,
nicknamed the “Animal Section.”
No one at the entry gate
ever checked for weapons.

We were good to go, unless
bottles protruded from the
sides of our backpacks,

or we spilled marijuana
on the sidewalk by mistake
as we entered Wrigley Field.
A friend once said,

“If you were one of the lucky
people who got to change
the scoreboard by hand, you’d
be so cool by default.”

We drank beer, passed
joints, ate salads, and
when the game was over,

we took our trash home
and disposed of it properly.
We were good citizens.

No one patted our thighs,
thrust their hands up our shirts,
groped under the waistbands of
our shorts, searching for explosives.
No one checked our health records

for evidence of compliance.
It was just a goddamned Cubs game,
a few 23-year-old kids,

and a summer that would end
like all the others after.

Previously appeared online in Rusty Truck magazine.

PHOTO: Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois, 2006).  Bleachers are under the green scoreboard. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem depicts a fond memory from my youth, a time when memories tend to be hazy. When I was a 20-something Chicagoan, I enjoyed many lazy afternoons at Wrigley Field. The days were long, security was lax, and bleacher seats were dirt-cheap. So much has changed since then, but not for the better.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is the author of 10 prose and poetry books. Her story collection, The Destruction of Angels (Anxiety Press), was published in October 2022. Her work appears in Rattle, NonBinary Review, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and others. She is a 2022 nonfiction nominee for Best of the Net. Her flash piece, “Land of Eternal Thirst” will appear in the 2022 edition of Sonder Press’ Best Small Fictions anthology. Visit her at leahmueller.org.