David Floren

Catalytic Umpire

'Quit yer stallin’ & git movin’! '
A chiseled ump spits, girthed
In a chest protector barrel,
And splits up a stale quarrel
Twixt lanky arm and old man.

With solid strides he nears
The bickering mass, and trumps
A think-tank of infielders
(a mound of mental toughness)
Moved more by fear of loss
Than faith in young hurlers.

Thought’s sensible mound: a bay
Holds a fleet of clustered cleets

Action’s clean seas of fans
Harbor esteem for the feats
Of the last two batters,

Let me tell you.

When untested rookie
And crusty vet launch
Back-to-back blasts,
Something’s the matter.

Coach looks staunch.

Some are brought (by fickle pals)
Around and grow astounded;
Some are lulled by the trick
Of a tight curv

Some are run down
In a verve pickle and laugh
To see wheat from chaff culled,

Sipping a lemoned hefeweizen,
On a sun-swathed mezzanine.

These have mulled things over,
And have grown over-
Whelmed by welcome.

Home, built upon plat or plate
Where distance begins
With new grounders. With
Pop-ups and late hoppers.
With hard liners and dribblers. With
Squibbers and ropes.

With “Go Baby”s and “Nope! ”s,
And a rare “Shiver me timbers! ”
From an old Pirate to boot.
To root, to care.


Dig right in there,
Square to the dare line.
Wedged in firm earthen footing.

Like an Irish standing stone,
Megalithic. The point,
moot – you’re game.

Let blustery changes beset
Your face. A glacier

Carved Half-Dome faster than death
Could dissuade you from showing.
Tastes, like lichen, coat their hosts.

Boasts get thrown by pitchmen.
Often for strikes. Often nasty
Splitters home for your head,

Missing the old tire-swing
Lumens of strike-zones
Roped to each slugger’s stance

By the brains of squatting umps
trained in gruffness.

The bean-ball wants you
To eat dirt, but you’d rather
Be gracious and greet it, coated now
In a Welcome Home dust.
Down but not out. Thinking outside

The box, your ghost
Tenses, un-fazed.

Eying the hurler,
Crowding the plate.

[3/13/06 Berkeley, CA]

Poem Submitted: Sunday, February 10, 2008

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