HOW WE WISH TO USE OUR FISTS: A Villanelle
……………………………………..Baseball World Series, 2013
……………………………………..Eighth Inning, game two
We see Martinez pounding his mitt with a fist, his face
pumped and angry, the tight, corded muscle and skin
adamant—he’s popped up Napoli, ending the Boston eighth.
We follow Napoli’s dugout jog, then Martinez’ tight gait,
his walk off the mound. He does not smirk, or grin—
he pounds his mitt, a ballgame metonym of hate.
Martinez, twenty-two, a rookie, the Cardinal’s ace,
struck out Victorino, then Pedroia—his fastball spins—
and he’s popped up Napoli. Boston deflates
in its dugout, glumly prays for hits, runners on base
in the ninth. But the Cardinals grin, as one, having pinned
their inning on Martinez—in his pounded mitt, their faith
rewarded. But what does it mean, this pounding, this great
flare of aggression Martinez displays? Examine its origin:
Tsunami-tattooed, he’s popped out Napoli; but is it fate,
or are his fists and hardassed struts and pumps straight
forward genes? Regardless—we love the passion:
his mitt-pounding shouts, his fist and face delineating
our desire to pop our bosses, our leaders, our gods, our fate.
………………………………………….Melbourne, Florida, 1965
You were driving home to your place above Dubs,
the store where you teach Mel Bay. You are
twenty. You are crocked—Bush Bavarian, rum
and Coke. Now your VW stopped in the weeds
by a ditch, engine off and ticking, the deputy’s Ford
idling behind like a fever, blue lights looping
the roadside, palms and moths and mosquitoes
flitting headlights, door lights, moon.
His green cuffed shirt, his leather belt, his gray-green
hat, and, Son, he says, does your father know
where you are tonight? Heat, humidity glazing stars
and sky like quartz, here, at one in the morning,
and, No, you say, and he asks where you’ve been.
A party, you say, West Melbourne. Frogs grinding.
Scent of orchard flowers. Wellsir, the deputy says,
I’m gonna let you go this time. Better not let me
catch you out here again like this. No sir, you say.
A flash to the north, a storm far away, and that flash
a gift of light, like the gift you’ve just been given.
And the palm-shapes across the road, long fronds
swaying—like grace, like shadowed tapers
fanning absolution. The deputy drives past, his eyes
opened east—to town, to his nightshift ending
and bright in the morning. You pull on to the excellent,
open road, twist the vent, and the night air
enters, cooling, fanning, fanning you free,
and you accelerate—carefully—and shift, adhering
carefully to the gray-white hyphening slowly lines.
William Snyder has published poems in Poet Lore, Folio, Cottonwood, and Southern Humanities Review, among others. He was the co-winner of the 2001 Grolier Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2002 Kinloch Rivers Chapbook competition; the CONSEQUENCE Prize in Poetry, 2013; and the 2015 Claire Keyes Poetry Prize. He teaches writing and literature at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN.