In the Hole

Some days I'm like a bad debt.
My eyes are zeroes added to last year's loss,
which was already substantial.
Grey hairs implode all over my head.
There's no more kidding myself about being young.
I should write myself off before it's too late.

I'm sitting out my son's umpteenth baseball game of the season.
For some reason, I have parked my collapsible chair right beside the fence beside the
You're in the hole now, Jackson, the coach says.
You're in the hole now, Garrett.
You're in the hole now, Liam.

It's kind of interesting to be privy
to how the kids psych themselves to be up at bat.
One snaps his bubblegum.
Another twists his face into a bellows in concentration and blows out a few hot puffs
of air.
Another scratches his behind.
All of them take a few swings, for the heck of it, at an invisible ball.

Wake up, Dominic, the other coach yells
to a fat kid in the outfield.

Suddenly I have an urgent personal need
to stare down the monstrosity of the pitching machine.
I've got to stand there with all eyes riveted on me.
I've got to experience the twitching of the bright star in the muscles of my batting arm.
Most of all, I've got to be afraid--glissons of fear tingling up and down my spine--
that the ball's gonna hit me in the eye
because to be that afraid is to be REALLY ALIVE.

Last week, at the beginning
of the financial planning seminar, the expert
stared right at me: As for those of you,
she joked, who will be paying for your kids to go to college
in the ten years just before you retire,
you'd better leave now. There's really
no hope for you.


Somebody finally hits the ball. The poor kid
who gets to the ball first almost
gets ignominiously crushed to death.
What a pigpile in the outfield!
That's what I love about this team.
Nobody, absolutely nobody, can field.

I look up in the late afternoon sky to see a sliver of moon.

Good eye,
somebody in the crowd flatters a kid
who didn't dare swing after missing two perfectly good pitches in a row.

My son rushes out of the dugout for a drink.
He slurps up all the rest of the water.
Before he goes out to the field, he gives me a bone-crushing hug.
I feel like I've just won a million dollars.

But how am I going to pay for him to go to college?
I don't know.
I'm still batting zero on that one.

Poetry Southeast literary journal southern poetry Chris Tusa

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