Roger Jones

Farm Club
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The players take the field, a whole new nine,
uniforms aglow under April's sun,
air washed with the scent of new mown grass,
red dirt raked around the mound, bases, home.
The spraddled centerfielder slaps his fist in his glove
twice, the umpire shouts, puts his mask over his face,
then hunches behind the catcher, and the game's on.
Up in the stands, we're glad the perennial crank

has returned among us with his repetoire
of taunts, cliches, and loud garbled one-liners aimed
not so much to annoy us as to keep us mindful
of the rhythm of the game. And now they begin again --
hanging curves, hard sliders, fastballs blurring
mound to plate, bright streaks burnished into the air,
homeruns arced far like rainbows whose flickering edges
far past the fence remind us of all the vacant meadows
we crashed through as children, chasing this same light.
    
Hay Hauling

We lived for those dusky moments, the hayfield
cleared, every bale bound up with a wire,
stacked on the flatbed, loaded into the barn
with holes between each bale for air. We
picked up all of them, even the queer-scented bale
we lifted to find the half-rotten cottonmouth
squeezed between the wires. Rolling out
again to the water cooler down on the fenceline --
the hedgerows' shadows of human forms rising
at us, the air filling with the inhuman screech
of insects -- we watched the sun drop, a red
drop poised over the world we know. Our limbs
and muscles ached to a single star pulsing
Work just over the ochred sky. And down south,
that orange-topped thunderhead cloud we prayed to
all afternoon, that grumbled and gave us hope,
broke up at the end, tore apart, and slipped away.
    
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