by Rich Bowering
October. Wally lights a cigarette,
Takes a long drag, stares at the glowing tip.
Sits somewhere in Section 42. It’s quiet.
He can still hear his mother’s shrill yap:
Don’t have babies with people.
But he did, and that night of unprotected sex
Produced little Jimmy, with greenish skin, who
Hangs his big square head as he walks down the hallway at school,
Half-boy half-mascot. The shotgun marriage was over
In six months – a freak for mascots, she left Wally for
Dave, the Self-Denying Fish. Finally settled for (of course)
The Fightin’ Mule, encountered outside a porn trade show.
Jimmy doesn’t want to learn the trade.
But what else will he do? Same attitude as Lobster-Boy’s kid.
Flicking his Lucky Strike, Wally swallows the last of his
Jack Daniels and, groping down the concourse to piss,
Stops to hose down a wall. No matter.
Minutes later he stumbles across center field, and words bear down
On him like a necklace of tires: Divorced. Absent father. Clown.
Wally knows that mascots are really just rowdy tourists
In the human world, covered with the foreign dust of ball fields:
Green and fuzzy! Spouting macabre caricatures of human heads,
And grotesque limbs! Flashing huge animal claws and teeth!
Looking up at the scoreboard before entering the secret door
And going to bed for the winter, he whips a crowd of pigeons
Into a great frenzy. One day his son will look in the mirror and see
Behind his own green head the shadows of a thousand human faces
Waiting for his cue. He will hear in that moment the roar that signifies
Both icon life and icon death.
Rich Bowering is the author of Big Fire at Spahn Ranch.
Published in Ballparks, Boston Red Sox, Fans, Free Verse, The Game Itself, Youth | Link to this poem | No Comments