Christian Thorsberg

after Sports Illustrated, 12 June, 1972 & memories

           I.
He’s juggling in his pinstripes,
A red catcher’s helmet his afro’s crankcase,
A loosie lolling between his teeth and tongue,
Spinning three Rawlings like spheres of wrecking cement;
Allen’s brashness makes him an infamous cover star,
His Camel’s ashes mixing with rosin bag dust
The pitcher’s fingering on the mound – 
At this point in the seventh it’s anyone’s guess if
He’s still throwing heat or heaving
Junk, or if massaging that summertime powder
Sack is just a way to scan the stands for a blonde to
Take back, the fireballer’s equivalent of walking off;
But he digs his cleats in rust-
colored mud and pieces chin
music with a heater on the outside half….
A frozen rope to the alley splays the foul
Line chalk wafting grains and toke,
A bang-bang play ends the rally,
Comiskey’s grandstands sag like melting microchips
And the 8-bit scoreboard, home of the Swingman,
Flashes its golden bulbs, the suns of Bridgeport,
Like the photographer’s camera capturing this
Season of Surprises, this pause between up and down.

            II.
The summer is hung like
bunting: sagging muggy
suns and music suspended
in August air. Disc jockey Dahl
introduced the first demolition
of many, and all around
the corner are bucket boys’ baseline
aftershocks. The tremors stretch
like vacant lots; what goes up
must come down, the physics
of innings and ballparks, the
momentum a pinwheel spins with.

          III.
Ponytail tucked and threaded through the back of his Sox cap, neon vest pressed with pins and
froth, the Rock and Roll Beer Dude, as he is dubbed by dudes of all walks, leads the right
bleachers with the aura of a Daley, blessing Irish Catholic bellies by his altar, the cooler.

Responds to two fingers with ten of his own: the good old days when Modelo’s were a fiver and
the Dude’s last call meant the stretch was coming, a reason if any to make room for road brews
and split before the barstools on Shields filled.

 

          IV.
The rays have been draped with
looming gray. Its wind, led by a
runaway hat, shudders broad
shoulders in this swollen spinnaker
city, a ripple of its namesake,
conserving momentum brick by
brick. The wrinkles of flapping
pennants trace slowly into our
skin, season by season,
season by season.

          V.
There are still no meters on 31st
Across from King Chu’s where
Chinatown bleeds into taco vans,

They are still serving Maxwell sausage
And Jarritos at the Depot, the finest parking
Lot corner you could ever pregame a homestand,

There’s still the Dude rocking neon,
Conducting his crowd of boozers,
Now an orchestra of grandfathers;

At each stretch the organ chords
Vibrate true across these days and
Nights in shining Armour Square.

          VI.
Here is still home –
After brick bleachers were
swept up like batters’ boxes
and the last of the swallowing
left nothing but gray, they
sent its plate across the street
heavy with plaques
and years, blackened now
by Camel ash to ash, and
diamond dust to dust.

 


Christian Thorsberg is a journalist and poet from the Northwest side of Chicago. He drives a Grand Marquis and roots for the White Sox. His favorite film moment: “Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.”