World Series, 2019

First baseball game I’ve seen this season– game seven
of the World Series, Houston versus Washington. A sea
of orange in Texas. Scherzer versus Springer. Joe Buck
talks about muscle injections, pinched nerves, breaking
ball– full count. He says this series is full of big swings,
big emotions– isn’t that a normal week? Dad watched
every Cleveland game. Ever. For a summer I did,
too, but October is chillier than usual. Last week, we
buried my oldest brother. We used to play sports
games– Triple Play 2000, Gran Turismo– on the
basement’s cold, brown carpet, where all physics
hurtled toward inevitable destinations: a ball singing
through the air into a blurry glove, or tires spinning
through some grainy tunnel. We’d trade wins, half-
luck, but there was always a conclusion. Last year,
I held his hand in the hospital. He squeezed my
fingers and said what he couldn’t with his eyes.
Last week, he didn’t get the kidney he needed.
When Washington wins, I see men cry on each
other’s shoulders. When my brother dies, my brother
cries on my shoulder. I cry on his shoulder.
And when we look at each other,
we find someone we both miss.

(originally published in Knot Literary Magazine, Fall 2021)

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.

 

(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2018)