Arc’s Spoken Word Editor Rusty Priske and the Arc Poetry Magazine Board also selected two honourable mentions:
This game is a soup of smells
that rests on my palate,
a collage of green and grey
and brown leather and warm wood.
When I pitched
in the waning years of my teenhood
I could taste the salty gravel in the back of my
throat. A clarity of the senses, sharp and focused.
When I took the field the stubbled
grass winked its green smile.
Did I actually taste mint when I smelled
my hands after I dove for a screeching ball?
My Tony Fernandez-embossed glove shook off its dust
and exhaled its meaty sigh as I stretched it,
fisted its belly as an exercise of
stress relief. I was never
a skilled fielder, but give me the mound
to test a new curveball my brother taught me
and I’ll never leave this shrine of
measured control, of glorious afternoons starring whiffing bats
and muttered curses. That’s the symphony every pitcher
wants to capture in a glass bottle, take it back home.
When I squared up in the batter’s box,
I put my nose to the bat quickly
like a boxer who gets sniffing-salted when he’s down for the count.
A wake-up jolt, a reminder I’m present, grounded.
This felt religious to me, but I never told my rabbi that
truth. He wouldn’t have seen it as romantically as I did.
The game’s aftermath was the boozy spice of
cheering beer pints, the cloudy tendrils of saccharine Coke,
caked sweat from rounding bases and
diving for arcing fly balls. We are happy here, and when
we drive our separate cars home I refuse to shower
during those first few hours indoors, lest the aroma of
baseball filter into nothing, becoming a
hazy dream slowly leaving my skin.
David Silverberg is a journalist, poet, spoken word artist, editor, and writing coach. His latest poetry collection, As Close to the Edge Without Going Over, was published by Kelp Queen Press in 2019, and he debuted his first solo show Jewnique in 2018. For 15 years, he was artistic director of Toronto Poetry Slam at the Drake Hotel. David has performed across Canada and in NYC, London and Paris. He recently launched online writing courses for creative and non-fiction writers. Find out more at DavidSilverberg.ca or on Twitter at @SilverbergDave
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