In Mudville

Oh, somewhere in the alleys they’ve begun another game,
And the crowd still finds it thrilling, but the rules aren’t quite the same,
And the layoffs at the gasworks have the watchmen carrying knives,
And the mayor wakes in dreams before a council of ex-wives.

Coyotes sniff the windowsills; the downtown streetlamps flicker;
The grown-ups look so solemn, all their teenage children snicker;
The men have special difficulty speaking to their fathers.
Mighty Casey finds it hardest. Nowadays he hardly bothers.

The music of the catcher’s mitt, the fatal snap behind you,
Becomes a tune you learn by heart (though not on purpose, mind you)—
Repetition dulls the memory to an almost-pleasant thud;
Certain things must be expected in a town named after mud.

The wind-whipped foul poles whistle and the stand of bleachers creaks;
The chain-link fence is rusted stiff; the water fountain leaks;
The runoff floods the dugout till it rots the pinewood bench,
And the field is blooming, blooming, with the sweetness of the stench.

Austin Allen

Austin Allen

Austin Allen’s first poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game, won the 2016 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from The Waywiser Press. His poems have appeared in The Yale Review, 32 Poems, Southwest Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere, and his criticism appears frequently via The Poetry Foundation. He lives and teaches in Cincinnati.
Austin Allen

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Author: Austin Allen

Austin Allen’s first poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game, won the 2016 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from The Waywiser Press. His poems have appeared in The Yale Review, 32 Poems, Southwest Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere, and his criticism appears frequently via The Poetry Foundation. He lives and teaches in Cincinnati.