after Tim Peeler
Even Larry had to wonder
what the hell they were thinking
to invite someone like him to Fenway Park
to read what he calls poetry in front of owners
and lawyers and serious sportswriters
and baseball stadium poet laureates.
They must not have known that he was born
from almost nothing and still had almost nothing
except the good sense his daddy gave him
and an appreciation of good whiskey.
They must not have known, until he pulled up
in front of the posh Commonwealth Hotel
and as the bellboy picked up his one
cheap bag, he asked, “Ya’ll know which way
it is to the bar?” that for him poetry
wasn’t Take Me Out to the Ball Game
or Casey at the Bat, but much rougher stuff,
busted mill house porch, contours
of darkness hovering over terraced field.
They must not have known that for him
the real heart of baseball would always beat
on a Legion field next to a cotton mill
somewhere north of Cherryville, North Carolina.
They must not have known that even with baseball
which he knew to be one of the few good things
left, he’d tell it the way it was,
full of greed and labor law, and mostly memory
of how things couldn’t be anymore.