Time is of the essence

I was never much good at baseball.  My last major stint was with the Hopkins (MN) Mighty Mites, when I was about 10 (ca. 1962).  Purple uniforms.  I remember the baseball field seemingly down in my bones somewhere (beneath the amnesiac brain).

In high school (where I focused on soccer) I had a very special English teacher, John Anderson, who radiated encouragement & good cheer to would-be writers like me.  In our school at that time, each teacher, and every senior, had to make an oration before the whole student body.  Mr. Anderson, for his part, read a baseball poem.  I can't recall the poet, or much of the poem - only the refrain : "time is of the essence".  It was about the national game.  I think I was so impressed by his performance that a few years later, when it was my turn to speak, I read a poem of my own (not about baseball).

This poem is about baseball, in a way.  It's also about iconic people, role models so-called.  In fact it's a kind of allegorical poem.  If you think of Dante's explication of the fourfold allegory of his Divina Commedia, this thing exhibits a similar symbolic layering.  How does it go - literal, moral, allegorical, anagogical?  Something like that.  On one of these levels lurks the idea that "Yogi Berra" - man, person - allegorically "stands for" something deeper, more universal.  But I'll leave it at bat.  Stee-rike!

                                the game ain’t over till it’s over

How the figure of a man at 90
(any man or woman, see)
becomes transparently
rough diamond, somehow... Yogi?

Behind home plate, in empty lot
traced over waste land,
he crouches – hokey Panda
Bear (wry antic square root

bassist of the base, Neanderthal).
Signals from the crotch
each crypto-kingfish pitch
plumb perfect (Sasquatch cone-ball).

Yankee stars wheel over stadium
where Little Bear paints
himself into pinstripe
corner (gray silo Te Deum);

Big Bear, worried, waves him off
Indian mound (a brave
9 innings) – takes a dive.
Let’s go explore the bottom of

the harbor, little lamb of mine.
I’m gonna let you shine.
Beatrice was a 9-
man game – for 28 seasons

soused us with spray of lilac
Liberty bells (for free).
Between you & me
the wave flows everywhere, Smolak.


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