Archives for posts with tag: sports

rbt w
The Great One
by Robert Whiteley

When the house is quiet
and all those beneath its roof asleep
I shut the bedroom doors behind me
and creep downstairs
to the kitchen

In the dark, my hands shake
as I fumble for the phone
and dial somebody who died
sixteen months earlier

the phone rings once,
twice, three times,
but it’s never the voice I want to hear

instead, I wait patiently
until the voice on the other end
of the line finishes telling me

that this number is no longer in service
so please hang up and try again

this is a recording

hang up. try again. let go. move on
if life was only that simple

if only the voice I wanted to hear,
the voice I now hear only in my head
could talk to me, tell me things like

what my first words might have been

or what my mother looked like
that afternoon in 1965
when she nearly killed him
with her car

or answer even the most prosaic question
like whatever happened
to my Wayne Gretzky autograph
when the house I grew up in, the house
we grew up in
fell to the ground in the autumn
of 2011

if only life was that simple

IMAGE: The author, around the time he met Wayne Gretzky in 1981.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I met Wayne (The Great One) Gretzky in 1981, in Burlington, Ontario, when he came to see his brother Brent play hockey against some of my friends who were playing for Burlington’s rep team. That night my babysitter (I was eight) cut and mounted Wayne’s autograph onto a white piece of cardboard. I kept it on my Empire Strikes Back cork board for years but don’t remember when it went missing. When my father sold the house I grew up in in 2010, I thought the mystery of where my missing Wayne Gretzky autograph may be answered. It wasn’t and my father died in 2015 at the age of 70.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Whiteley
lives with his family just beyond the shadowy reach of the CN Tower. His poems have appeared both in Canada and in the United States. He owns an online antiquarian bookstore called “The Poet’s Pulpit”

bob-cousy
How We Grew
by Steve Deutsch

The summer I turned seventeen
a girl I never knew leapt from her 8th floor window.
She fell soundlessly
to land some twenty feet from our pick-up game,
just as Fox’s one-hand set shot,
arced and graceful as a prayer,
clanged against the unforgiving rim.
My best friend, Red, threw up by the foul line.

It was a summer of sorting out.
In Vietnam, our country had need of its children.
Some of us — good at math,
good with words,
good at taking tests
were off to college — four years of a certain kind of diligence.
The others donned helmet and gun
and tried to make a deal
with a god they had no use for,
so that they might come home again.

I never knew what made her jump
on that perfect day in June,
when the wind, for once
blew from the north,
taking with it the stink of landfill
just five minutes south of us
in Canarsie Bay.
I often wondered just what it was
that defied her self-forgiveness —
how fortune shakes the die
in her palsied hand
and how we must learn to live with the lie.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Picture of Bob Cousy (how I saw myself on the basketball court at 17).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is nearly nonfiction. A girl I did not know, of about my age, did leap from her window to her death — though I did not see it. And my friends did divide between going to college and going to Vietnam. Those of us who went to school had an infinitely easier time of it. We have, however, had to come to terms with our good fortune — a process that in my case seems like it will go on forever.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Deutsch, a semi-retired practitioner of the fluid mechanics of mechanical hearts and heart valves, lives with his wife Karen — a visual artist — in State College, Pennsylvania . Steve writes poetry, short fiction and the blog stevieslaw.wordpress.com. His most recent publications have been in Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, Misfit Magazine and One-sentence poems. As an adult, he had the good fortune to sit in on two poetry classes taught by first-class poets and teachers. He has been writing poetry ever since.

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My Dead Tooth
by G. Louis Heath

17 was a helluva a year, all sorts of
conflict and turbulence. I was trying
to figure out who I was, even though

I graduated among the top in my class.
Sports was the way to climb the status
pole at Oroville High in the foothills of

the Sierras where I grew up. I did not
like football but baseball a bit. So, I
combined brain and ball by managing

the varsity baseball team. Road trips
detracted from my studies. I mightily
regret that 55 years later. I could have

read some great books that only now
I am catching up on. I did one good
thing as manager, broke up a fight on

the team bus. The third baseman, as big
as me at 220, hit me flush in the mouth,
caused a front tooth to wiggle for the

longest time. The nerve was dead. I just
took the blow, like the Freedom Riders,
though I have thrown some vicious, angry,

imaginary counterpunches over the years.
My dead tooth, now the stained one, says
it all for my senior year at 17. I want to add

just one more thing: Just before graduating,
I cut my varsity manager letter into little felt
pieces, and I do mean very little felt pieces.

PHOTO: The author’s graduation photo, Oroville High School (Oroville, California, 1962).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University, Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple: An Illinois State University Professor’s Memoir of Seven Summers’ Teaching in Canadian Universities, 1972-1978, Long Dark River Casino, and Redbird Prof: Poems Of A Normal U, 1969-1981. He has published poems in a wide array of journals.

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Winged Helmet
by Isobel Cunningham

I got a bike for Christmas when I was ten years old. After a spectacular head-over- heels crash into a ditch full of stinging nettles I abandoned it. My bike was forgotten in the flurry of our family’s preparation for immigration to Canada. Montreal’s hilly terrain and city traffic made my parents understandably reluctant to get me another bike.   Years passed and in spite of lessons from friends and a sporty ex-husband, it seemed like a lost cause.

Last summer I met a man who heard my profound frustration at my failure. “I don’t know what it would take to get me on a bike again,”I told him.

We went for brunch one Sunday morning. “Hey a bike rental! With tandems! Let’s give it a try.” Was it the effect of two mimosas or his hopeful smile that made me fight down my panic? Joe introduced me to Maria, the young manager of the shop. They exchanged a few words in Spanish and she gave me a helmet.  “This is a magic helmet,” she whispered. “I’ll just adjust the strap.” I was shaking, but I decided to believe in the magic of the helmet. “Hermes’s helmet,” I silently dubbed it. How could I fall with Hermes’s helmet on my head? Joe’s broad back was before me on the tandem. I clutched the handlebars, we pushed down together on the right pedals and off we went!

I was on a bike, gliding along the path beside the Lachine Canal! I relaxed in the otherworldly protection of the shiny black helmet.  A long pleasant ride ended with warm congratulations from Maria and a photo shoot. Almost sixty years since I last rode a bike! There are all kinds of magic, after all.

PHOTO: The author in her Winged Helmet (September 25, 2016 at the Lachine Canal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When people saw the picture of me on a bike they gasped. My inability to ride a bike had always been met with incredulity from strangers and mystified resignation from friends. I could hardly believe it myself when I felt the wind in my face and saw the canal slipping by on that sunny Sunday this past fall. The “Magic Helmet” imbued me with courage, with confidence.  Later, I was delighted when my friend and the playful manager of the bike rental opened up about the kind ruse they had played on me. This is my first opportunity to explain how a long-standing fear was banished….as if by magic!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isobel Cunningham writes poetry and short fiction. She published a book of poetry in 2015 and is working on a collection of short stories. A volunteer docent at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, she loves the outdoors and is a passionate gardener.

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Skiing Attire
by Mary Langer Thompson

On that first Thanksgiving
with my new spouse,
I asked, “Don’t they stop this thing
to let you off?”
”No, you ski off,” he answered.
But I didn’t tilt those boards up fast enough
and my furry snow hat
that I bought to keep warm and look cute
never did provide padding in the right spots.

PHOTO: The author in her fur hat in Big Bear, California.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Langer Thompson writes poetry, articles, short stories, and children’s books. A retired school principal, she now writes daily in her home in Apple Valley, California. She’s been married to her “spouse,” Dave, for 45 years, but has never learned to ski.

qb
Trying Out for Quarterback
by Steve Klepetar

It’s seventh grade and I’m going out for football.
I like the red jersey with white numbers
and I love the big white helmet that flops around
on my head, the ferocious cage through which I glare.
“So,” my father says, what position you trying for?”
“Quarterback,” I say, with that lazy air of confidence
and just the slightest hint of Texas drawl I imagine
appropriate for the role. He frowns a little, says
“Really? Well, great, but don’t be disappointed
if they pick a different kid, you know every boy
wants to be quarterback, so maybe they’ll put you
somewhere else?” I’ve got number twelve, a QB’s
number, and I’m too skinny for the offensive line,
too tall for running back. Forget defense.
I hate to tackle, already figured out how to circle
the play and arrive just after the ball carrier tumbles
to earth in a tangle of writhing arms and legs.

Two weeks later he asks me about football again.
“So, Mr. Quarterback, how’s it going with the team.”
“Good,” I say.
I don’t tell him how I like the way the girls watch us
practice, how we run past them to the locker room,
helmets dangling from our hands, forcing ourselves
not to smile. I’m working on my jock jog, that little
roll of the hips, my shoulders bulging in their pads,
bent slightly forward, a destroyer on choppy seas.

“So what position they got you playing?”
“Quarterback,” I tell him evenly.
“So you made it? That’s great! They like
your passing then?”
“Uh, not really, we don’t pass that much.”
“So your running?” he asks, a little surprised.
“Um, no, I’m not all that great at running.”
“So what then, how you fake and handle the ball?”
“I guess I’m the only one who can remember the plays.”

There’s a long pause.
“Ah, strategy, the brains of the organization.
And how many plays do you have to keep straight
in that head of yours?”
“Three,” I say,
and shuffle off to the kitchen in search of food.

SOURCE: “Trying Out for Quarterback” first appeared in the author’s collection Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My son Adam (now 38) in a ferocious seventh-grade football pose.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  The story in this poem is true, pretty much word for word, but the speaker is my son, Adam, and I am the clueless dad. The hat is, of course, the football helmet. I love the double punch line, and all the more because it really happened.

steve-klepetar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Phenomenal Literature, Red River Review, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including one in 2016). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. His full-length collection Family Reunion is forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

cubswinhatcollage
My Grandfather, The Billy Goat Curse,
and Game Seven of the 2016 World Series

by Howard Richard Debs

I was ready, baseball cap and all.
He took me by the hand
as we boarded the crowded
Clark Street streetcar headed
for Wrigley Field, it was
game day, my
first with grandpa Eddie,
the first of many

It’s 5-1 Chicago heading into
the bottom of the 5th inning
then Cleveland scores 2 runs,
narrowing the lead to 5-3

He told me all about the
curse that day, how it came
to be in 1945 because a
pet goat smelled bad he
had to leave so the pet’s owner
got mad and hexed the team

In the 6th Chicago gets
another run making it 6-3
but in the 8th Cleveland
comes back with 3 of their
own to tie the score at 6 all

We had seats way up in
the bleachers. He told me
we had to keep rooting
for the Cubs no matter what,
never give up he said,
then he bought us hot dogs

After a stalemate in the 9th
with a rain delay before the start
of extra innings, in the 10th
Chicago brings in 2, with 2 away
Cleveland gets 1 more run but
a ground out gives the
Cubs the World Series win

We ate peanuts later in the game,
let the cracked shells fall at our feet,
when it came time for the 7th inning
stretch the whole crowd sang
Take Me Out to the Ballgame—
some things. . .you never forget.

–Dedicated to Cubs’ mega-fans Emily Jo Scalzo and her father, the late Stephen M. Scalzo — he was here for the win.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in my current Cubs baseball cap (not the one I had as a kid — that childhood hat is gone forever, but not the childish glee) — here shown celebrating as my beloved team depicted doing likewise on TV having won game 7 and thereby finally once again The World Series.

goatandgrandpa

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At left, the infamous William Sianis, the man who committed the dastardly deed, with his pet goat Murphy. A baseball is sewn together with 108 stitches. Maybe it’s coincidence, but it has been 108 years since the Cubs’ last title, so perhaps it was destined for “the curse” to end in 2016. At right, my maternal grandpa Eddie, a haberdasher by trade, here shown in front of his shop window, so this piece related to a hat is certainly “well-fitted.”

bio-headshot-debs

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. After 50 years in communications, and an Educational Press Association of America Distinguished Achievement Award, he resumed his creative pursuits. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work appears internationally in numerous publications recently in Yellow Chair Review, Silver Birch Press, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Dime Show Review, and the Clear Poetry 2015 Anthology. His essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” appeared in On Being – On The Blog, and his photography has been featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His full-length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words is forthcoming in early 2017 from Scarlet Leaf Publishing.

Peipins- The Pool at the Temple
Diving into the Abyss
by Terez Peipins

It was big news when our new middle school installed a swimming pool. We all speculated about how it would look, what bathing suits we would wear, and what would happen if someone peed in it. Although I grew up next to a pond, I never learned to swim. So, in seventh grade the day finally came when our class went swimming. Our bathing suits were navy blue and baggy. I had to take off my glasses which meant I was in a chlorine fog. I joined the nerds in the shallow end and learned a strange frog-like backstroke. We had six weeks of a shallow pool experience where I could stand up at any time if my stroke wasn’t working.

The following year when our class’s turn came, I was sick with a cold for the first two weeks which kept me away from the pool. At the end of my first day back, the class lined up to dive. That was not something I could manage so I went to shower and change. The gym teacher pulled me out of the shower and made me get into line. I protested to no avail. I jumped off the diving board into the deep end. Sputtering I came up and had to be rescued by a pole.

All was not lost. The following year, understanding my fears, the new gym teacher (who, by the way, was hot) held my hand as I floated in the deep end. I’m still not a great swimmer but I can swim in the deep end of a pool with a minimum of anxiety.

PHOTO: The author in the pool at Baps Indian Temple (Atlanta, Georgia).

PEIPINS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The  poetry, fiction, and essays of Terez Peipins have appeared in publications both in the United States and abroad, including Anak Sastra, Barcelona Ink, The Barcelona Review, The Buffalo News,Conte, Creeping Bent,Hawai’ Pacific Review, Melusine, and Pedestal, among many others.  Her newest chapbook, Dance the Truth is published by Saddle Road Press. Her novel, The Shadow of Silver Birch is published by Black Rose Writing.

Kerns

A Little Cy Young
by S.L. Kerns

At 10 years old, I stood day in and day out behind our faded, white farmhouse. Tall weeds and trees surrounded me in a square patch of grass, freshly cut for my training grounds. The Kentucky summer sun beat down on me in my navy blue Angels jersey, but I refused to strip it off.

Baseball was my passion, and I believed pitching was my destiny, even if the coaches always placed me in the outfield.

The cistern’s protective wall—concrete and on a slope—proved itself a worthy hind catcher that summer with every perfect pitch bouncing back from the chalked-up strike zone and rolling back towards me, never making me leave the dirt mound I had made.

With the only ball I owned in my right hand, I flipped it around in my black Mizuno glove—a birthday gift from Dad—testing different grips across the worn-out seams. My body and arms wound up and twisted like a contortionist caught in a cyclone, mimicking all my favorite major-leaguers: Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Hideo Nomo, and the legendary Cy Young.

In my mind, I threw fastballs, palmballs, knuckleballs, curveballs, and changeups against the greatest batters: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and the short-fused Ty Cobb. None of them could even connect a foul tip off my wicked pitches. Of course, Ty Cobb often got pissed, and even charged the mound a few times.

I threw the ball hard against that concrete surface hour after hour, day after day. Each time it returned to me there’d be a new scratch, dent, or tear. Eventually, there was nothing left, and my private, summer training ended.

PHOTO: The author in 2015 at Chuo Park in Takamatsu, Japan, wearing a Yomiuri Giants  [Tokyo] Kiyohara jersey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since moving to Japan, I’ve rediscovered my love for baseball, and wish I could go back and play again.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: S.L. Kerns may have southern roots grounded in Kentucky, but has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom from being an avid reader and a good listener. He also loves bodybuilding, and likes to think of himself as one of the physically strongest prose writers since Mishima or Hemingway. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his stories. His work has been published or is forthcoming online in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, Degenerate Literature, Funny in Five Hundred, Eastlit, and in print in Kill Those Damn Cats: Lovecraftian Anthology, Anonymous Anthology, Out of the Cave, Pure Slush: Summer, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie Volume I and II. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab. Follow him here: www.slkerns.wordpress.com.

sunil
Half a Ton
by Vincent Van Ross

I was a great fan of cricket
I used to see myself
As a reflected image
Of legendary batsmen
Like Gary Sobers,
Vivian Richards,
Don Bradman,
Tony Greig,
Sunil Gavaskar,
Sachin Tendulkar,
M S Dhoni
And Virat Kohli

I was talking to my friend
About it the other day
When he mentioned
That I should do something
Like Yuvraj Singh
Who scored 36 runs
In a single over
Scoring six runs a ball

I swept him
Off his feet
With my response:
“If that is the case,
I will score
A half century in one over”

“That is impossible,”
Protested my friend
Who got bowled over
By my googly

“That is impossible
Only if you think
In a straitjacket
But if you think
Out-of-the-box,
That is very much possible,”
I explained

“How in the world
Would you score
A half century
In an over?”
Countered my friend

“There are only six balls
To an over…
Even if you score
The maximum number of runs
Which is six per ball
You still end up
Making 36 runs”

“That is what I said…
You are talking of a perfect over
Where each of the six balls
Is a fair delivery
And, I am talking of an over
With two no-balls…”

That caught him off-guard
And he looked at me
With utter disbelief
And I continued
Singing merrily
As if that was my swan song…

“That makes it an over
Of eight balls, right?
If I score six runs a ball
I make 48 runs in the over
Add to the two extra runs
For the no-balls
And, we have fifty runs
In the kitty”

PHOTO: Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: 
Vincent Van Ross
is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi in India. He writes on national and international politics, defence, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics. Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. Vincent’s articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh. He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous poetry sites and facebook groups on the web.