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Thursday, April 03, 2008


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

reflections on Bush's first pitch
at the Washington Nationals' new stadium,
March 31, 2008

From the mound where I practice night and day
Where I grip the rough lace this and that way
Feel the small of the ball
The fat
I wince at the twinge in my back as
Laura shouts
Don’t forget to ice!
Gosh darn, Laura's’s nice
Night and day, night and day
The repetition of dedicated motion
The gravity of play
The string on my finger
To remind me to kick my leg
And twist my hip
To hold onto the ball until the very last blip
Laura tells me that I look the part
She says the little curl of my lip
Is like I'm the dude who puts the black hats
Where they need to go after the kill
Out where I'm from we call it Boot Hill
It's getting dark on the White House lawn
Pretty soon I'll be going in
Ten more throws
Ten more good hard ones
And I'll call it a day
When I’ve kneeled down to pray - hang on a sec -
That’s one! Heck, this is fun!
I've asked God why he made me say what he made me say
Two! Oh, baby, that's what ol' GW do!
About the romance of war
Three! Wow-whee!
What, dear Jesus, did you have in store?
Flippin' four! Man, that crowd is gonna roar!
Jesus is such a fine man
There isn't one question he dodges
Five! Everyone should feel half this alive!
He told me
That he wanted me to celebrate the joy of giving
Just as he gave all
Six! Like pickin up sticks!
He wanted me to make the boys (and ladies, too)
Know that I knew how their hearts soared
Seven' For all y’all up in heaven!
To die for their country
To give their life's blood so we all can be free
Eight! Heck, life is great!
To have the opportunity
To leap onto a live grenade
Nine! This is fine!
Jesus I love you, man
You are my rock and my redeemer
Ten! That's it, then!
I walk off the mound
I wave to the crowd
Jesus says He loves me too
And I pat Him on the back
As he puts the balls away
In His big ol' equipment sack

Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, switched-on guttenberg, levelpoetry, and The Kennesaw Review. An Honorable Mention winner in The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Competition, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and the Mary C. Mohr Poetry Award, Swartz will be published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review in 2008. In 1990, his film Never Leave Nevada opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.