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Late Season Slump, a poem by Robert Manaster

Late Season Slump

He's now aware of every crack

in the sidewalk of his game:

the bat's not cocked back too far,

the grip's not too tight,

stance not too tense — 

after years in the minors

he should know.

Still in the game,

he lately thinks, Just no good

pitch to crush. Still,

in the box, he waits to pound

a ball out of the park.

When he swings, his eyes

close, hips drift, breath holds. The lucky

gold cross his old man gave him flips

wildly forward on its chain.

Follow-through, follow-through

that's all he hears.

Sure enough, the ball squibbles

back toward the mound.

I'm done. He doesn't bother

to run the play out.

As he looks up, his arms

extend — face numb, legs cold-stiff.

Jesus, what now.

Robert Manaster's poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Birmingham Poetry Review, Image, Maine Review, Into the Void, and Spillway. His co-translation of Ronny Someck's The Milk Underground was awarded the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. He's also published poetry book reviews in such publications as Rattle, Colorado Review, and Massachusetts Review.