It’s the first night of the season! Happy League night!
Peace, love, and solace
Mash note to a great sport
(for the team and Ann)
I love you – you big lug.
So straightforward anyone can play,
More understanding than any other guy,
you reward a striking performance,
even give me a second chance.
You big galoot, I like how you’re down to earth,
how I have to come to a noisy alley,
how you let me know
it’s bad to wallow in the gutter.
Your talk speaks so loudly:
we’re in the alley or the lane,
we leading off or on the approach,
after that it’s follow through, follow through, follow through.
Then it’s all about the release and how
we marked, scored, converted.
I love your rituals—
the stroker squeezes the little rosin sack,
the kingpin blows into the finger grips or straps on his wrist master,
the captain addresses Mr. Headpin and calls for an Explodo,
the anchor clutches his heart when there’s a near split–
and your gestures– high fives, backslaps, pounding knuckles,
and “the Tiger pump” that one guy always makes.
I don’t mind your unseemliness–sweaty palms, fingers in holes,
shared soles, sprayed and swapped, because it doesn’t detract
from your best quality – the most fun of all–
with you, I get to knock things down! Glorious destruction!
You let me wreak havoc, encourage it even.
And, I appreciate your history.
It figures Fred and Barney bowl since
cavemen and cavewomen had leagues
down by the dry creek bed.
Ancient Egyptians left the game
with their mummies, and
Julius Caesar dug his bocce
just like the Big Lebowski.
And I dig our compatriots—Split Happens, Pinheads, Four Balls
and Two Bags, da Bears, Bowled Over,
Spare Me—and the matches—
camaraderie, competition, shot and a beer,
waiting for the chick who never pays attention.
Bowling for trim or glory, Xs
cover the sheet like kisses.
With you, my big brute, the possibilities roll
like a 14-lb pound Ebonite
spinning into the pocket,
zigzagging for grandma’s teeth,
love-tapping the barmaid.
Knocking down those sleepers
makes a satisfactory clatter,
even if it is a Brooklyn.
What have I forgotten?
How your ten frames
build like decades in a century,
the tenth so filled with possibility.
Bang or whimper? Bang, definitely, bang.
Oh bub, you’re good for a date or a league commitment.
I’ll take you squeezed between the old timers
on a weekday morning, Whatever weather,
I can come by the alley and recreate—
maybe trot with a turkey or howl with a hambone.
It’s even okay when I have frame after frame
of number nine, just like in that Beatles song.
My baby, darling of kings and jolly good
fun to ordinary folk alike,
at two bucks a line,
you’re almost as cheap as my old pal poetry.
© Ellen Wade Beals, 2012
This was first published in Intentional Walk Review, December 2, 2012