T.S. Eliot Be Damned
by Mark Fleisher

Damn you, T.S. Eliot,
not because your words
sometimes wandered
into the darkness
of anti-Semitism;
not because you inspired
that insufferable musical,
though those are perfectly
appropriate reasons
to damn you

Damn you for demeaning
April as the cruelest month

Did you embrace cricket
or soccer hooliganism
when you became a Brit,
abandoning the Cardinals
and Browns of your
St. Louis youth?

Let me tell you of April

The air echoes
with the thwack
of a 95-mile-an hour
heater colliding with
a leathery mitt
lovingly caressed
with neatsfoot oil

April when the crack
of a Louisville Slugger
sends a nimble outfielder
galloping into the grassy gap
only to witness the white blur
arc beyond the green expanse

When Latino names
in headlines signify
not tinpot dictators
nor phony populists
nor evil drug lords,
but agile shortstops
fleet-footed fly chasers,
sinewy southpaws

When basket catches,
tape-measure homers,
graceful swings inspire
street corner singers
to praise the talents
of past immortals

When kids pound a pocket
in their fielder's gloves,
offer autograph books,
hoping to snag a foul ball
or a signature or both
if luck is with them

Who cares if the authors
never sang their song
during a seventh-inning stretch;
And yes, Abner Doubleday
inventing baseball …
so much doubletalk

Nothing better
than 50-cent hot dog night
at Isotopes Park
in Albuquerque and
I've four tickets
a half-dozen rows behind
the first base dugout;
kiss cams, synthetic grass,
silly in-between-inning games,
invisible organs
blaring loud music,
none bother me

Now batter up,
Thomas Stearns Eliot,
now play ball
for it is April

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