Saturday, May 22, 2021

Writing While Watching

The thing I love about baseball is what most people don’t like. Too damn slow! But how else could I write a blog while watching? Poets need their space to roam, their outfield grass. The batter steps out of the box, calls for time, knocks at the dirt, that isn’t there, from his spikes. The poet takes out the comma he put in ten minutes ago. He is looking for a startling phrase, a fat fastball down the middle but instead he’ll take a walk.

Slow is under-rated. It is why time-lapse photography was invented. Give the game its due. If you want action turn on the basketball game. I’ve been ignoring the season the way I have no taste for fast food. Eating a taco on the run doesn’t stand a chance next to high tea.

Yet here I am watching the last two minutes of the Laker game which can take half an hour; the clock seems to slow down. The season is over and now the real season begins with the playoffs. LeBron James is a dribbling Baryshnikov. Michelangelo would have yearned to render him in marble. His look is menacing to the opposition. His body twists and spins into unexpected stanzas. His quick release is like a charged language, sprung.

Grown men in their colored underwear are running back and forth across the page talking fluent trash even with the mute button on. Two zebras with whistles among the gazelles as words roll beyond the margin like loose balls.

It’s all about that hole bigger than the sum of its dimension. Athletes live for holes, from little to, billiards, hockey and soccer. A space to be filled, but none to match this game of basketball like a gush of participles dangling on the rim, dropping or sputtering away into the delete button. It’s about getting into the right juxtaposition. Fakes, double pumps and slam dunks when that line, that leaping image brings it home.

This is not baseball, slow-mo and stoic on a summer day. If the National Pastime is that unhurried refuge basketball has caught the zeitgeist. It is the inner-city ferocious tango of finesse and power. Each point scored a punctuation, an assertion to redress a grievance. A riff from Charley Parker.

They are putting it to the gods. The god of normalcy, of margins, making it jagged. LeBron is Icarus defying Newton; he is the apple that won’t fall…yet, graceful beyond any gothic arch with his game-face a gargoyle, the way you might strain to reach for a word not yet grunted, hang-time longer than a sentence by Proust and when he returns to that wood, this page... cartilage might tear as if the small syllables of breath denied his ancestors and his brothers. The score is settled for a moment. The blank page is filled, never quite saying the unsayable.


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