Thursday 30 December 2021


A Ball Park Weiner Commercial Pitched as a (Sentimental/Sugary/Seventh Inning Stretch) Poem*

by Jen Schneider

so, this is what I think, the (many) reasons why i return to the park even as the park refuses me. refuses me not in the way(s) one is typically refused - with silent stares, averted eyes, or locked gates. refused in the way of the world - today’s digital age - where texts travel faster than the speed of light & all tracks are traced. refused in the way of my gut - today’s girth - where digestive tracts tease & the reader’s digest no longer prints baseball trivia. and port-a-potties line paths paved of potholes no one digs and pot everyone digs. because you can’t retrieve balls that sail over your fences & you can’t recall emails that sail overseas. and because - despite all that you refuse to do & all that you can’t do (none of can do everything & only some of us know the rules & the rules need to change anyway & only those who know them hide in closed forums even as your open fields call) - you do so much. because you made moves and threw balls for civil rights. you swung bats for cultural change and Martin Luther King Jr. once credited one of your players - the great Jackie Robinson - for his own home runs. and because these are truths  - both literal & figurative. and because you track stats (& rates) in ways that document trends that need be tracked. because you make dreams - both of the field and of the city - possible. for guys on city stoops. for girls in couture hoops. for kids everywhere. because you are predictable in a world of unpredictability. like when i moved (from phila to ny to boston and back again) and everything changed, you stayed the same (in phila & ny & boston and back again). because you are always on time (no matter the time) & never in a hurry. like my grandfather who would spend hours in the back bedroom (the one with no air & no lights) listening to your every word with his right ear (his back straight & his hand cupped just so – as if he cradled the ball of a perfect pitch) & the front room with his left where his spouse of fifty plus years watched day of our lives. time to play ball they’d say to each other each morning over her sanka and his hot water with lemon. all lives worthy. extra innings and double headers always welcome. because you are always out & always on your game. because your peanuts are always hot and your colas are always cold. because it’s always someone’s birthday and you never forget. in surround sound. blasted all around town. because you never lose hope (not even at rock bottom) and because beverages on rocks are always smooth. because your weiners are always cooking (ball park & oscar mayer dual in jest) and your custard & ice cream machine is always cranking. perfect scoops. perfect baseballs. because you offer bats to anyone & everyone. no one can’t play. because you have an infinite number of plays. and curve balls are also welcome. and umpires play by the rules. because you encourage slides and sometimes steals. context depending, of course. because errors are always expected and because everyone gets not one, not two, but three chances to soar & score. because you are family to all. and you not only support distancing you are of distancing. all bases more than six feet apart. all players spaced. you never cease to entertain. right off the pitch you [serve] swing, crack [jokes] bats, & throw strikes. from the big screen to the small town to the transistor radio (AM & PM), you are always at the plate. and one summer day, when i was at work and nothing was right (the world on fire) and everything was wrong (the fire out of control), you calmed us all. first with your seventh inning stretch. next with your fist in the gut of your soft leather mitt. keep up the fight/down but not out/lights still on/foul smells dissipate/not all flies run foul, you cheered. and I  we listened.

*inspired by Matthew Olzmann’s “Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem” (and a love of baseball)

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Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).


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