FALL 2009

William Heyen


The day of the Nassau-Suffolk All-Star game
I dove from rocks & strained my groin.
I pitched that evening, but couldn't lift
my leg for speed. Nassau hit me pretty good--

no big deal in 1951.
I don't think my folks were there,
& the ump worked in dungarees.
At bat, I doubled--the ball bounced

over a barbed-wire fence in left-center.
I limped to second, & maybe, could be,
scored, but can't remember. Later,
we goofed off even though we lost,

& no one pitied us. Coach Louis Vion,
at sixty-eight I dreamt of little league heaven.
You stand at the plate to welcome our team.
We're coming, Coach, we yell, and hookslide home.


Back in high school, big Pete Callahan,
my older sister's ex,
was screwing around in the locker room
when he fractured his cocyx,

broke his ass. Coach Mularz near
had a conniption fit,
seeing as how Pete was to be his starting center
that night against Northport,

& what was Pete doing in the shower
during English class?
Well, the stories went around about poker
& about Bess

who wept rivers in her bedroom & who
never did recover
from the cruel inspired jokes about a lover
who couldn't make doo-doo.

Those were the years. I stood high school maybe
half the time,
& what about you, & what about me
in that locker room?



It looked like he needed to boat just
one more fish to win the Bassmaster's Classic,
& this was a hard strike, but his hook

wasn't set deep enough, or who knows what,
& the fish broke off that's now lurking
under a ledge & shying from shadows

from up there where something had pulled it
& from which sharp vibrations now
touch its bodybrain into new knowledge.


William Heyen lives in Brockport, New York. A former Fulbright lecturer and Guggenheim fellow in poetry, he has recently published books of poetry, fiction, critical essays, and autobiography from Mammoth Books. His Shoah Train: Poems was a 2004 National Book Award Finalist from Etruscan Press, which has just published his A Poetics of Hiroshima. He has been a frequent Poetrybay contributor.



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