by William Heyen
Mantle ran so hard, they said,
he tore his legs to pieces.
What is this but spirit?
52 homers in ’56, the triple crown.
I was a high school junior, batting
fourth behind him in a dream.
I prayed for him to quit, before
his lifetime dropped below .300.
But he didn’t, and it did.
He makes Brylcreem commercials now,
models with opened mouths draped around him
as they never were in Commerce, Oklahoma,
where the sandy-haired, wide-shouldered boy
stood up against his barn,
lefty for an hour (Ruth, Gehrig),
then righty (DiMaggio),
as his father winged them in,
and the future blew toward him,
now a fastball, now a slow
like a model’s smile
William Heyen’s poems have appeared in over 100 periodicals. He taught English literature and creative writing at the State University of New York College at Brockport for over 30 years. He recently performed “Mantle” at the Chautauqua Festival.
Published in Fans, Free Verse, History, New York Yankees, Players, Youth | Link to this poem | 2 Comments