"Shadow Ball" - Robert Lee Kendrick
We chucked a Louisville Slugger over the fence,
barrel & handle turning end over end
to cut the sunlight in uneven lops
before it tumbled to ground.
Four feet of chain link hopped. Cooler
& boom box handed over, Olde English 800
& black leather angels on homemade cassettes.
Late evening haze hung over
the outfield & pitcher’s mound
shimmered with heat crawling dirt.
We could sneak an hour
before sunset. Over at the plate
& four in the field, heads still spinning
from basement Black Sabbath,
we played with our lengthening shadows.
No helmets. No umpire. Malt liquor
tilted Lincoln High field to our slant,
a can per man to put more bite
on cutters & curves, to blur hops
& liners & hang oracle pop ups
close to the moon, red stitched Sputniks
leaving town for longer than we could.
Three years gone from black pinstripes
& Ls on our caps. Racetrak & Kroger shirts
all day, pizza delivery Highway Stars
at night. Twilight baseball between.
Two strikes down, we’d call long shots
& swing from the heels & foul them straight
back. No keeping score, no way to win,
nothing to lose but a few stolen balls,
just hang in & hack while you can.
When buzzed luck met muscle memory,
northern ash launched white leather
high through the darkening deep blue
& rose, a long hyperbola into the trees.
Robert Lee Kendrick is the featured reader at next month's Word of Mouth, July 5 at The Globe. He lives in Clemson with his wife and their dogs. "Shadow Ball" was posted April 2017 at A Writer's Window.