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Squeeze Play in Five Acts, a poem by James Green


Squeeze Play in Five Acts

Squinting into lights through a cage,

the catcher tucks his fist into his crotch 

and flashes signs 

to the pitcher, poker-faced, leaning-in, 

like a panther assaying quarry before the pounce, 

hiding the ball behind his back, 

turning it in his fingers to find the seams 

he will command to enchant its flight, then 

squaring his shoulders and staring like 

a gunslinger 

at the runner who teases a step at a time, 

freezes on the balls of his feet, legs coiled, 

arms cocked, instinct triggering the dive 

to safety or dash into that soundless corridor 

that points to home.

Bending backward, like a catapult winding, 

the pitcher points his cleats at the sky

and a fielder with his glove open-mouthed

begins to tiptoe toward the borderland 

dividing hesitation from commitment

and the final act begins: 

A man, centerstage, standing alone 

who will detect rotation, estimate rate, 

speculate on trajectory, before reaching 

to tap the ball softly as a pool shark, 

the dénouement unfolding inside a script 

the players write with

if, then.

James Green
has published four chapbooks of poetry. His most recent, Long Journey Home, was the winner of the 2019 Charles Dickson Chapbook Contest sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. His individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. James resides in Muncie, Indiana.