Haiku at shortstop

Editorial Notebook

April 03, 2004|By Will Englund

IN THE spirit of the new season, it's worth remembering that baseball speaks in three main languages: English, Spanish and Japanese. (Chinese, Korean and French make up the second division.) The major-league season always used to open in Cincinnati, but baseball, the most satisfyingly traditional sport, has cast its moorings loose with 5 a.m. games in Tokyo - in March. That count! Well, that's fine; here's a nod to internationalism, in the venerable - and certifiably steroid-free - Japanese literary form.

Outlook unbrilliant.

Mudville behind, Casey up.

Joy somewhere; not here.

O's spin hit-and-run.

McGraw, then Keeler, who purrs,

Hit 'em where they ain't.

Rain delay, no score.

Tarp rolled up, pitchers rewarming.

Top of the seventh.

Take me out. Buy me.

I don't care if I never -

Root. A shame. You're out.

Old tobacco juice

And chin music: Polo Grounds,

Forbes Field, Comiskey.

Familiar rhythm

From the radio, lulling

Murmur of the crowd.

Devil buys Joe's soul,

Have heart! But Satan remits.

Run, Joe. Damn Yankees!

Syrup and hokum.

"If you build it they will come."

Black Sox in the corn.

Gnats, dandelions,

The hmmm of a lawn mower.

Lean forward. Ball four.

Right field's foul. Supply

Your own pitcher. You need a

Double to get on.

The ball gray against

The gray sky. Run fast enough -

Just - to intersect.

Again in the weeds.

Stitched leather and chlorophyll,

All of a color.

The crowd with purpose,

Drawn forward. Get your scorecard.

Once was cigar smoke.

The green-gold field, glimpsed

From the gloom between upper

And lower decks, sliced.

Let's get a batter!

Say can you see? Coming down!

Hot dog! Batter up!

Flag drooping - still just

The fifth? Did I miss - Wait, look -

No, it's going foul.

Men at a boys' game.

They stand for us, we for them.

Our re-enactors.

Haiku at shortstop,

Deep behind third, on the grass -

Slim; runs west, throws east.

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