Curve Ball

Curve Ball

Paul calls at one a. m.
I can’t sleep, he says.

Are you okay?
I thought the virus would be over

Like a flash flood from a storm
that tears away a few shingles.

We switch from phones
to FaceTime.

A spoon barely projects out of
a carton of ice cream.

He wears his Cubs cap in bed.
His eyes dart to and from the camera.

I needed to be sure of you.
I sent a check for the fifty bucks I owe you.

This goes on for an hour.
I fix a snack of cheese and crackers.

I pour a glass of almond milk.
I get seven words in edgewise.

After Paul hangs up I fall back to sleep,
dream us playing catch.

A green baseball with little red prongs
that sticks to our fingers for the filthiest curve ball.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Good Shot

Paul is about to speak.
Surprise takes him.
It places a black hood over his head.
It shoves him in a getaway car.

Paul’s words stand in the queue.
They are ready to be uttered.
They do not understand the delay.
They are unsure what to do next.

Surprise sends me a ransom note.
The note sets a sum for Paul’s words.
The note states nothing about Paul.
It ends with the word Scream in a Halloween font.

I was not really listening to Paul.
He took too long assembling his words.
I had drifted into a replay of a Cubs game.
Bottom of the ninth. Winning run on third.

The sum was small enough,
I would pay to have Paul back.
But not just his words.
What was Surprise thinking?

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


The doormat is tired of being a doormat.
It petitions Paul for a throw rug promotion.

The butternut squash soup informs Paul
its is now tomato bisque.

Paul is relieved when the shower
changes to a stationary rain storm.

His fork wishes to be a flyswatter
but is open to being a trident to spear moths.

The last straw occurs when Paul’s
Cubs World Series Champions t-shirt

informs him it is now a little black dress
and he should purchase a pair of spiked heals.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Before rapture
and the second coming
with all its earthly implications,
Jesus snuck out of heaven
many times, in many incarnations,
to visit earth as a highly touted
baseball prospect,
traversing the minor leagues
and independent leagues
to fulfill his dream
of playing centerfield
for the Cubs.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tomorrow Says Twenty-Sixteen

Tomorrow waits for me.
I lag behind, eyes shagged by a baseball game.

The game plays itself out before the fireplace.
Piñon, aspen, pine burn and crackle.

Firelight mixes with moonlight.
The Wrigley Field of my youth displays itself.

The shadows of ballplayers move
in miniature, upon the illuminated diamond-shaped tiles.

I sit alone
and not alone as Billy Williams

tracks down a ball hit into the right field corner
and throws it to the cutoff man.

I see you, my pinstriped Cubs. Nineteen Sixty-Nine
is so young and full of promise.

Tomorrow taps me on the shoulder.
I look up, ready to go forward,

knowing not even my imagination
will stop the amazing, miracle Mets.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Twenty-Sixteen refers to the year the Cubs won the world series for the first time since 1908.

I grew up a Cubs fan, mostly because the Cubs were on a TV channel our set received. My mom, who grew up a White Sox fan a few blocks from Comiskey Park, was annoyed by my choice.

Billy Williams (not Ernie Banks) was one of my childhood sports heroes. I have a poster of him on my wall in my writing studio (aka: poetarium), along with a picture post card of his plaque in Cooperstown