American Portrait 12
by Ken Harnisch
From Montana to MIT
Harry Chang comes east to
Boston, and opens his mind
To a brand new world.
And how gullible is the boy from the
North; how sweetly innocent he is;
Knowledge of the ways of jaded men
In their skyscrapers and their city
Full of baseball, brawn, and beans.
Harry learns the ways of the T
The Back Bay and Beacon Street
He smiles at the eye candy on the campuses
From Charlestown to Cambridge
He looks out at the iron sweep
Of the Atlantic, and is
For the moment, in awe
Young Harry is the bookish sort
Who has trouble tying his shoes
And when his roomies bring him to
Fenway Park, he seems utterly perplexed
The one and only time he played ball
He was seven, hitting off a tee.
The one and only time he
Watched the game, he was bleary-eyed
And sleepless, just before writing
His valedictory speech in a little town
Near Great Falls.
He admits he has heard of the Red Sox.
Ted Williams stirs him to a smile
Yaz a lesser puzzled glimmer
But for Pedro, nary a flicker on his lips
Appalled, his friends bring him
To the shadows of the Green Monster
To a bar tinkling with the beery cries
Of the eternal fan, the hapless and the
Hopeless Red Sox fan, the guy who
Has turned Next Year into
Another trip to Lourdes.
They ply him with Sam Adams, grill him on
His knowledge of the game. Yes, he knows
How you walk and how you hit. Yes he knows
What striking out means. Yes, he knows the universe
Of English is peppered with the language of the game.
But the team itself? Whats so special,
He wants to know.
Why the air of impending doom?
Why the spirit of the futile, which he smells with every
An old man, Stan Casey, takes a liking to him
Wraps him in the belly of his scarlet arm
Drooping with the unworked sinews of retirement
But far from flabby flesh
You are in the presence of Heaven, says Stan
This cathedral next door is to be visited
Only by the faithful, who possess the Faith
You cannot enter the gates
Without reverence for the years
Without knowing of the Pain
But always, you must learn
The never-ending prayer,
Wait til Next Year
And Harry smiles dumbly,
Sipping on his umpteenth beer
Says, But, what makes your teams such losers?
Drawing gasps of indignation
And white faced rage, but Stan raises his hand
To calm the embattled multitudes
No losers here, Harry, he says.
Warriors, son, warriors! Laid low by perfidy and
High rent owners from that accursed
And yes the Curse
Then Stan goes on about Harry Frazee
And how he sold the Babe to the Yankees
To invest in a Broadway bomb
And how the dominoes fell from there
And how, in the Fall, they topple still
And in such agonizing ways
Always, damn it all, to the New York
Then Harry, seeing finally the dull revealing light
Says, Thats what you mean by Bucky Bleeping Dent,
And Stan smiles, wiping that painful tear from his eye
For years the man stood alone in our shattered hearts,
He says. But now he has company at last.
And taking Harry by the scruff of the neck,
Stan orders another round
Saying, have you heard, Harry, of the
We now call Aaron Bleeping Boone?
Author's Note: "To know America, you must know baseball" - Jacques Barzun
Posted on 11/18/2003
Copyright © 2023 Ken Harnisch
|Member Comments on this Poem|
|Posted by Maureen Glaude on 11/18/03 at 11:58 PM|
I have a writer I must show this too, he would know all the references. It sounds wonderful to me, who is not that familiar, with them. Great theme and well done, Ken.
|Posted by Kate Demeree on 11/24/03 at 04:16 PM|
Your AP's keep getting better and better. Baseball ever close to the hearts of many and how you weave life and lessons through the tale... Well Done!