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Here’s how I remember that Fort San summer.
We writers cobbled together a team
— a money tournament — but we were in it for fun,
and what could be more fun than our first game?
David Carpenter at ease on the mound, tossing
pitches so slow no batter could wait for them,
slow grounders, easy bloopers to the outfield,
occasional strike-outs, our catcher urging him on,
Hey buddy, buddy, pitch fire, buddy,
easy out, buddy, smoke him, buddy, buddy,
burn him, burn him, burn him,
his spiel a performance poem for the ages,
and we were putting them out, starting
to believe we could hit too and then
we actually scored some runs, Eli Mandel, our
coach, telling us he knew we could win this game.
And we did. Lost the next one, of course,
but who cared after our one, glorious win?
That night there was beer in the hall,
someone playing a piano, the whole team
gathered around, Robert Kroetsch singing,
“Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women,”
then another song, and another, all of us
singing along, joy as pure as a double play,
the piano drunk and rocking, and that night
we leaned in and rode it, every one of us,
we felt we could have stayed there forever,
but our throats grew weary, our voices hoarse,
the janitor saying how late it was,
he had to lock up the hall.