Some kids in the projects
didn’t have gloves. They caught better
barehanded or so they wanted us to believe.
Roberto’s mother got him Converse
sneakers but they had no star in the logo.
He cried until we left him alone.
It was all his mother could afford.
We didn’t know that because we were
children and had no children of our own.
We had gloves. Cheap gloves. Gloves
with no pocket no matter how much
we kept punching into the center of them.
The gloves had missing pockets
like our missing fathers who once punched
our mothers and swung bats at our heads.
Our fathers were gone and we outgrew their
absence. Our hands became too large
for small gloves. Many were lost or stolen.
One winter we threw and caught snowballs
with stiff fingers. Roberto once got me good and
kept laughing and saying he was Clemente.
That was the year after he discovered
he was Puerto Rican and Spanish
had yet to melt in his mouth.
Girl in a Ballpark with Her Back to the Stands
I was the best player
on my block, in my neighborhood,
in my school.
I guess it’s because of catching
I’m sitting by the foul line
in right field.
I chase after foul balls
then flip them to those boys
in the stands with open gloves.
People probably wonder why
I’m not wearing a dress
or singing in the church choir.
There are times
when I feel Edward Hopper
is looking over my shoulder
staring at stats.
Everything in front of me
and sometimes nothing there.
I stare at my laptop,
the light in the room.
Every kid’s dream a daydream.
I shadow players looking
for the player who plays ball
until it’s dark outside.
The player whose girl
is at the night diner
sitting alone waiting
for a kiss.
Lost in the Sun
Joyful Black fathers
throwing their little ones into the air.
Years later a troubling blue sky
blankets their world.
Black fathers at funerals
no longer able to catch their sons.
Black fathers no longer standing
in a field of dreams.
Their Black boys gone –
sunglasses unable to hide their
These poems appear in When Your Wife has Tommy John Surgery and other Baseball Stories, forthcoming from City Point Press.
E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry. He hosts the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and hosts and produces The Scholars on UDC-TV which received a 2020 Telly Award. Miller’s latest book If God Invented Baseball (City Point Press) was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the American Library Association’s Black Caucus. https://searcharchives.library.gwu.edu/repositories/2/resources/367