If a Declared Infield Fly is Allowed to Fall
by David M. Harris
We drove, once,
Spencer Brown and Charlie Norris and I,
three hours to New Britain, Connecticut,
to pick up Charlie’s brother Tony,
and play canasta.
We argued about revolutionary ideology, too,
a complicated set of rules for us to explore.
Once you know the rules, the world’s a simpler place.
Once you know the rules.
I was five, youngest of the neighborhood kids, playing
my first real game, with rules everyone else knew,
a sort of baseball with four or five players,
pretty much every kid in the neighborhood,
and I accidentally hit the ball, hard.
Somone laughed and shouted,
“That’s a home run!” so I ran
home. Eventually, my father took me to the Bronx
to see real games, like Roger taking Tracy Stallard long
for number 61. I learned the order of the bases,
the batting order, the squeeze bunt, but never
how to play well. I enjoy watching sports, even
playing some, but I am no athlete, no star,
even when I know most of the rules
(I never quite got the infield fly rule, but can’t feel too bad
about that). I learned the rules of checkers, Parcheesi, even chess–
sixth board of six on the high school team.
Not so good on strategy, but I knew the rules. Card games, too:
canasta and pinochle with the family,
more canasta, crazy eights, pedro, hearts in college,
but never bridge. I never got the hang of bidding,
a whole separate set of rules. I let B.J. bid for me and,
often as not, play the cards out of my hand.
Bidding was too much to think about
when the real function of the games was to give us a reason
to sit and talk and drink and talk some more. Maybe that’s why
I was better at games than sports. More sitting around, more talking.
Maybe in the Harvard huddle, before the quarterback calls a play,
one of the tackles asks, “How does classical Marxism adapt
to the globalized e-business environment?” but I doubt it.
Sports are serious and demand serious attention.
We drove, once, in college, to New Britain, to pick up Tony
and join the all-night canasta tournament.
Cards and music were background for our collegiate plotting
to overthrow capitalism. We never did change the system.
We were too early to fight the designated hitter rule. We never did
much beyond talking and playing cards.
We could understand those rules.
David M. Harris has lately been working on poems in the form of letters, and on ripping out the blackberry tangles that have invaded his back yard. He has also finally gotten the MG running, now that it’s too cold to go out with the top down. Fortunately, he has learned to accept life as it is.