New Words

by Jim Daniels

Saturday afternoon, alone in the living room
I crouched on the floor to watch
the Tigers lose another game.

Don Wert let a ball roll through
his legs and down the line in left.
You pimp, I cried
as the winning run scored.

My mother dropped laundry, grabbed my arm:
what’d you call him?
Pimp, I mumbled. I was nine
and about to learn a new word.

My mother turned off the tv.
A man sells a woman’s body.
I thought about that for a long time:

Don Wert missed a ground ball.
Don Wert did not sell women’s bodies.
Don Wert was not a good third baseman.
Don Wert was not a pimp.

It would be a couple more years
before I thought much about women’s bodies
before I etched a g for girls
into my dresser drawer knob I used
to dial in my dreams.

That night I pinned Don Wert’s baseball card
to my dartboard and took my pleasure.
Pimp, I whispered, pimp.

Jim Daniels is the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, where he has taught creative writing for 30 years.

Published in Detroit Tigers, Free Verse, Players, Youth | Link to this poem | No Comments

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