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The Gamewinner
Ron McFarland


You’re the man, you are the man, your
teammates are saying and half-praying
who can bring them back into the game
with a fortuitous, sure, the coach might say
"lucky," swing of the bat, a sweet cut
at the old apple, if only that stringbean
leaning in from the mound would chunk you,
as Dizzy Dean would’ve said, a "punkin,"
just fast enough, belt-high, in your zone.
You’d give her a ride. You would get right
under her and lift her over deep center.

"Baby," you say to yourself, "come on baby."
You tap the plate with the keen blade of your bat.
You wave it straight toward centerfield thinking
deep, against the wall at least, and you see yourself
rounding second, pounding into third, sliding,
kicking dust into the face of that punk who
gunned you out back in the sixth because
baseball is all about retribution, salvation.

"Big guy," they’re still shouting from the dugout,
you can make it happen-you’re the one-you can
do it—eat it up, the next pitch, just bloop it over second,
two out, the bases juiced, all sex and justice.
Two strikes, no sweat, a piece of cake, easy as pie,
make that a slice of Grandma’s pumpkin. Dessert—
be hungry, man. Shift your weight. Just meet the ball. 

This poem first appeared in Slant #24(Summer 2010), p. 49.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Ron McFarland was born in Ohio, grew up in Florida, and taught for a couple of years in Texas and Illinois before joining the staff at the University of Idaho. In 1984, he was selected as Idaho’s first Writer-in-Residence. Ron likes to say he writes poems “for the Great American Non-Poetry-Reading Public,” which he thinks means that if people who say they don’t like poems would read his poems, maybe they’d change their minds. (He has yet to receive confirmation of this hypothesis.) Pecan Grove Press published his fourth full-length collection, Subtle Thieves, in March of this year.




Post New Comment:
You did it! It's a home run!
Posted 08/24/2012 12:20 PM
I have no feelings about baseball, and you've got me pulling for this guy!
Posted 08/24/2012 11:49 AM
ed werstein:
Good poem, Ron. Enjoyed it.
Posted 08/24/2012 09:54 AM
Larry Schug:
the Great American Non-Poetry-Reading Public!! I do believe baseball can reach them. We gotta bring the boys into the poetry dugout. I love baseball poems. This is a good one, Ron.
Posted 08/24/2012 07:34 AM
I will start out my day with "shifting my weight, and meeting the ball." I great motto, at least for me. Thanks.
Posted 08/24/2012 07:03 AM

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