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Backswing

Out back of the main building
in the hard-packed khaki dirt
there’s a long and narrow tin awning
supported on slender steel poles
painted a nubby industrial beige.

Young people wearing jeans or
cargo pants and white t-shirts
and protective helemts swing
baseball bats at each other, not
attempting to make contact and do
each other any harm. The supervisor
tells the visitor, It’s just a game
to develop their martial-arts
skills, see how they smile?

The visitor sees how they swing
their bats and sweat and dance
about in the dust, hears their
calls and shouts, notices a skinny
girls whose pointy breasts poke
against her shirt.  He tells
the supervisor, This is bogus.
They should be making contact,
breaking bones and cracking
open skulls, develop some
real-life skills. Give me
a bat and I’ll show you how.

The visitor is given a bat
(the skinny girl’s?) and directed
to a place at the far end
of the awning. This is where
we do that, the supervisor says.
The visitor is shown how he
is to whale away at the fender
of an old red car, scratched
and dented and the metal showing through.

This is how we make our art,
The supervisor tells the visitor,
who begins hitting the fender
with the bat as hard as
he can. Damn, this feels good!,
he grins and checks his backswing
so he doesn’t accidentally hit
any of the t-shirted participants
who have gathered round to watch
and cheer him on. Look at him go!

Beyond the fender, shaded under a tree,
there’s a pond with tiny fish.
When any piece of gravel
or splinter of wood or flake
of paint falls into the pond,
the tiny fish dart to it and
gather round it for a moment,
their noses all pointing to it
and their bodies stretched
so together they look like
a momentarily undulating asterisk.
A moment later and they dart away.

Published inOniontownPoemsWords

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