Archives for posts with tag: sports

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.

Kernsbio

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.

Ross

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.

Tubed
Gray Socks
by Ryn Holmes

A single ray sneaks through the curtain
on a thunder-dark dawn,
waking up an urban fish out of water.
Rolling out of bed onto the wood floor,
she scratches, stretches,
then works out a few night-kinks
as gray-stocking’d feet shuffle toward
the kitchen’s aromatic first-light brew
drifting ’round her nodding, foggy noggin.
Sliding over to the front window,
she sips and swallows
in reverie,
staring out at the commuter traffic

and is back in faded baggies,
under the sun, offshore winds perfect.
Straddling the waxed board,
she bobs gently,
lined up with others watching,
waiting for a perfect curl.
As the intensity of waves increases,
she puts the water on notice, stands
hanging ten, then steps the deck
to carve a place on the face of a big one,
flying off the lip and into the sky –
a clean aerial.
Ears wind-whistled,
she drops into the pocket, weaves,
shooting the pipeline
to barrel through the green room
in a tube-ride faster than ever before.
Finally, pitching into the pit
she wipes out, stoked.
A totally rad ride!

Outside, city noises break open the dream.

IMAGE: “Tubed,” California surfing poster by The Poster Factory, available at zazzle.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My imaginary skill is surfing. Growing up exposed to the beach culture in Southern California, I spent many hours watching and envying surfers their freedom in the water.  Although I didn’t have the means at the time, I would have given anything to join them.

holmes photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As writer and psychiatric nurse, Ryn Holmes has drawn inspiration from both patients and friends in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and now the Gulf Coast. She has been published in the Four & Twenty online poetry journal, various editions of the Emerald Coast Review, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, as well as Longleaf Pine magazine and others. An award-winning photographer, including first prize for “Art on Paper’” in San Francisco’s inaugural Art in the Park event, Ryn is a member of the West Florida Literary Federation, an editor at Panoply literary zine, and a partner in K & K Manuscript Editing.

nadia
The Gymnast
by Sofia Kioroglou

     Running
          jumping,
               tumbling,
                    somersaulting,
                         flipping and
                              balancing.

Yes, I can do them all. My supreme performance on the rings has my mum fumbling for words. In my dreams, I am executing a challenging routine at the horizontal bar when you suddenly interrupt my stunt with your yelling voice. I don’t blame you. You just didn’t know a was working hard to win the gold medal on Sunday.

IMAGE: Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci performing on the uneven bars at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where she won three gold medals.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved gymnastics and was quite captivated by the performance of great international male and female gymnasts. My favourite gymnastics sport has always been the rings and the horizontal bar. How I wished I had the agility and balance to do flips, jump, tumble and somersault. I suppose I can do all of them in my dreams.

SOFIA IN 2014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sofia Kioroglou is an award-winning poet, writer and prolific blogger residing in Athens, Greece, with her husband Peter. She remembers herself born with a quill in her hand writing poems and painting beautiful pictures. Her poems are included in many anthologies, including the Poetry Against Terror Anthology, the Poetry Against Inequality anthology, and a number of literary journals that include Verse-Virtual, Writink Page, Silver Birch Press, Halkyon Days, Ashvamegh, Fractal.gr, and Winamop. She was one of the winners of the Panhellenic Poetry Competition of Bonsaistories this June with her poem “Solidarity” She is a member of the Poets Unite Worldwide. To learn more about her work, visit sofiakioroglou.wordpress.com.

Jimmy Piersall1
Becoming Jimmy Piersall
by Jimmy Pappas

“Probably the best thing that happened to me was going nuts. Nobody knew who I was until that happened.” — Jimmy Piersall

I wanted to be “Jimmy” just like him, not “Jim.”
When my favorite center fielder hit his 100th
home run, he ran backwards around the bases.
I tried that with some friends but stumbled
to the ground going into second base.

Once at a Red Sox game, while all my Little League
buddies screamed at each play, I focused my attention
on Piersall. During a pitching change, Jimmy sat
on the ground tossing dirt against the left field wall
known as the Green Monster. Another player tapped
him on the shoulder to get him over to his position.
The mystery of that moment never left me.

At the time I knew nothing about his electric shock
therapy and never thought of him as mentally ill,
just different, not fitting in with the world around him.
When I watched the movie of his life story,
Fear Strikes Out, with his role played by Anthony Perkins,
who also starred as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s
Psycho, it only added to Piersall’s appeal for me.

Now, standing at the edge of a still pond,
I gather up some pebbles and toss them in,
watching where the ripples end up.

PHOTO: Jimmy Piersall (born 1929). Photo courtesy of BaseballHistorian.com. Caption Under Photo: Back with the Red Sox after suffering a nervous breakdown last summer (1952), Piersall could become one of the league’s top fielders.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Whenever I am introduced as Jimmy, people continue to insist on calling me Jim. This poem is the true story of what originally inspired my preference for being called Jimmy. Here’s my one-that-got-away story about playing center field in the Little League: I reached over the fence to rob someone of a home run, à la Jimmy Piersall, when a boy on a bike knocked the ball away. My one chance for glory ruined.

Pappas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jimmy Pappas received an MA in English Literature from Rivier University. His poems have been published in such journals as Atticus Review, Misfit Magazine, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is a recent first-prize winner of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National Contest.

PHOTO: Jimmy Pappas reminiscing about baseball.

brent-jones
My First Hero Was Brent Jones
by Brent Jones

At the same time
Different place
You could find Brent Jones twice
For one, the backyard was like a stadium
For the other, the stadium was his backyard
We came to play the same game
In the making of who we wanted to be
Moments in memory of when we gritted our teeth
But you could still see the grin
One was 31
The other only 5 years old
Flattening green grass with big boy steps
Our main man has the ball, sends it into the air
The sun stares down hard watching both Brents extend their fingers           toward the sky
Some 1000 miles apart
When the catch is made, do you hear
The din roar of 34,000 fans or
Simply the breeze whispering through the trees
At the end of the day,
One wore the championship ring of the 49ers in ’94 for tight end
The other wore a 49ers Champion brand jacket for years until it was too           tight

PHOTO: Brent Jones was a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers from 1987-1997.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Growing up and looking for idols, my first was an easy find: Brent Jones was a pro NFL player my father pointed out while watching the Super Bowl. It was a happy thing to hear “I” ran for a first down or that it was “me” who caught a short pass.

Jones1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brent Jones is currently teaching English to elementary students near Tokyo, Japan.

lawrence1
Past the Finish Line
for Torrin Laurice Lawrence
by Torrin A. Greathouse

I stare at car crash photos and remember the impact.
Remember how the glass split
starting lines into my skin,
imagine how it split wedges in the Leadwood of yours.
How blood poured down our faces like cracks
blooming across breaking glass,
the silent escape of the runaways in our veins.

One day, I will let that blood flow away,
as I tattoo the words
born to run on the inside of my foot,
think of how you tattooed that word onto every track,
every cracked road you filled with thunder,
stamped those three words into the dirt
so that they would never forget you.

I wonder,
for all these years, what were you running from?
People don’t move like that
unless something is chasing them.
What memories tore flesh, unseen from your heels?
What pursued you out in the dark?
I remember how every streetlight was a finish line—until it wasn’t.

I am still running.
Tell me, did you know it was the end
of your race when you saw the semi coming?

Our coaches taught us,
to avoid injury, keep running
after the finish line.
Let your body slow when it chooses.

I stare at car crash photos
and think of how your blood kept running,
even after it left your body.

PHOTO: Sprinter Torrin Laurice Lawrence (1989-2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first saw the prompt, I was immediately intrigued, but thought it was unlikely I would find a famous Torrin. When I began to research, however, I struck gold. I found a figure with experiences similar to my own, a similar drive, and who died in a car crash the way I almost did. In a way, the primary separation between us is the air in my lungs.

Greathouse

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Torrin A. Greathouse is a Literary Journalism student and governing member of the Uncultivated Rabbits spoken word collective at UC Irvine. They were the 2015 winner of the Orange County Poetry Slam. Torrin’s work has been published in several magazines including Rust + Moth, Chiron Review, Crack the Spine, and one chapbook Cosmic Taxi Driver Blues. They are currently employed as the executive assistant of a sustainable lighting firm. Their previous jobs include security guard, farm hand, antique store clerk, and tattoo artist.

PHOTO: The author eating lunch, January 8th