Pitcher in the Rain
By Denis Stokes
There’s an idiot down there
Across the church parking lot
In the schoolyard five stories down
Pitching against the wall, pitching in the rain
So heavy the traffic’s slowing down,
So dark all the headlights keep flicking on.
A room or two’s
Being used in the school.
They light up
The walls outside spilled with stains,
Road hockey pee breaks, berby, tennis and basketball,
Spud every year or so.
Schoolyards know the stories.
Gulls circle by, remembering
This idiot pitching against the wind, perhaps
In this rain getting heavier by the minute
Insisting upon the rhythms of his attempts
As if I were looking down instead through sunlight,
Some benevolent summer.
But you can see the kapok, his skinned planet
Hopping trout quick and mad off that wall
To the glove’s rapid snapping
At each sudden swerve for spin or stone.
The idiot- he must be soaked to the bone by now.
His arm must be hurting bad.
A starling or grackle laughs,
Observes from a window ledge above,
Can’t believe it, I bet
Can’t believe anything worth such release,
Such defiance of this dusk.
What game up ahead could it be?
Why would he bother to be here
Knocking and knocking at those bricks, skip stepping
Into each downswing of arm,
No batter there,
No catcher even,
Just some hurt, some deepening dream and need,
This reason no one but he can see
signalled from that wall?
By Denis Stokes
People in such plenitude,
The train rail path
Was a space we knew only
By wheels grinding out
A stop at an unseen light
Or around the ball field, a turn
Before straightening to the lake.
The train was always over or
Above, the junction between
Neighbourhoods, say, from
Herb’s place to where
My first love Heather bloomed
Beyond my dreams. The junction
Was a tunnel, long poured
Before our time- always cold
And echoing, its dense
Weave of water, stone and sand
Smooth to our dark touches
Though I think there must have been
Light in there.
Once, at dusk, late spring,
I was walking two friends home
When at the tunnel’s mouth
Fell the weight of a dead man-
Swinging at first, then with the rope
Tightening, falling still.
Of course, Liz and Sharon screamed
Low and muddled in that stark
Acoustics of late light
Their fear echoing even now,
My ear still hurts. Though it turned out to be only
Kids run out of firecrackers,
Frogs, hankering after
Fun, for weeks my friends
Insisted that we tunnel jumped
Over hill of rail and rough stones
Through the fence wire’s
Refusals... The train which took lives
Became just a ghost sound from
Far off- never coming, always
Going away, its loud dark
Safe in the thoughts of my two friends
Woken in their walk
By yet another execution inside
The minds of boys- boys,
And each stuffed puppet
Keeps troubling me.
you can also find hard copies of Tunnel Jumping at The Fashion Art Retail Market (The FARM), Allison The Bookman, or by calling 705-471-5612