Terry McNeely


the tongue slides wildly about the mouth
stretching from the palate to the teeth
curving behind the gums, aspirating,
backstopping, tossing feral sounds into the air
changing up, the vocal chords bursting

to the hum of remembered sugar kings
whipping machetes around the infield
the extended tongue flying back and forth
the orioles gliding in from the north

pajaros y ninos, aves en los arboles

the mouth stretching around a perro
caliente, castro still throwing off-speed
curves well into his seventies
the satchel paige of his generation
intense eyes peering from under his gorra
roja, perplexing change-ups, sliders,
curves, y bolas rapidas, stealing
thunder, the big bats from the land
of reality swinging at air, the tongue
knuckling, fluttering through the mouth
shouting, sink the ships sink the ships,
un grito cubano, forty years later
the lines remaining hard and unbending,
the options reduced to bunting hanging
on the curved walls, reconciliation
ninety feet away, these artists always
looking to score, but their aspirations
stranded on the corners.

pajaros ye ninos, aves en los arboles,
the leg again kicks high, the dust
settling on the bases, before the night
falls the teeth smile a taut grimace,
only an error or two at dusk stranding
the children between the warring parents,
who constantly check the runners, but
fail to notice the tongue sliding
through the lips entering play
between the foul lines with a quick pounce
the big cat swallows a late-inning out
and unrestrained tongues let loose
but the children we once were
bidden to hold our tongues
as we crouch gravely in the dugout.

pajaros y ninos, aves en los arboles.

Terry McNeely has published extensively in small Northern California venues, including Big River News, Fish Dance, Peace Press. He is a retired mail carrier who has worked as a crab-pot knitter, prep cook, trailer park/camp ground manger, and cab driver.



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