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Baseball introduced me to poetry.  At the kitchen table on a rainy Sunday afternoon at age thirteen, I composed a rather lengthy poem in tribute to my favorite baseball player, calling it “The Ballad of Eddie Mathews,” actually a takeoff on a popular song at the time.  Somehow it fell into the hands of my English teacher.  Sensing some faint flicker of promise (or the complete opposite), she became my self-appointed tutor during the noon recess each day, introducing me to a new world of rhymes, beats, and sonnets.

Thereafter, I could only steal furtive glances outside, where the rest of the guys were whacking baseballs and running the bases in my beloved sport, all wrapped in visions of baseball glory--home runs into starry skies, ticker tape parades, the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.  All the while I fidgeted in my one-armed wooden desk reciting the “daDUM, daDUM, daDUMs” of the endless dance of iambic pentameter.  Only years later did I come to appreciate this curious lesson in irony.  How could I not put those lunchtime hours to some use in the future?

After a lengthy detour into a legal career, I’ve come full circle.  I suppose Mrs. Starr would be glad (and possibly astonished) to know that seven times my poems have been ranked as finalists in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and ten poems have been selected on the short list for finalist or semifinalist in the Faulkner and Boulevard competitions.  My poems have been published in Blueline, as an Editor’s Pick in Pooled Ink, and in the anthology Coffee Poems.

Thanks, Ms. Starr!

Periodic Poems

As a welcome to the website and an invitation to return, I would like to share with you an occasional original poem.  These offerings will cover a variety of forms, subjects, emotions, and life events.  I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, October 17 2018

The trumpet 
delivers a river of sound
through the solemn streets 
of the waiting city,
enfolding the assemblage 
of marchers, tambourines 
and slide trombones,
top hats, fringed umbrellas
and timeless balconied shops,
in the smooth embrace of its music.

“Just a closer walk with Thee...”
implore the swaying 
musicians advancing 
in the cradling slow dance 
of reverence and bottomless passion,
each flinging his music
into the flowing current
of unchecked emotion.

I yield to impulse
and jump into the moving
wave, dipping to the rhythm
beside a booming bass drum
and sounding out the lyrics 
to the unhurried tempo.

Passing an old cemetery
I happen to notice 
a phantom presence
slip quickly 
among the small forest
of tombstones, crypts, 
and crosses and slide 
into the swelling cortege.
By now the tempo has changed,
upbeat and triumphant,
“Jesus on the Main Line,”
knees hopping high,
voices loud and jazzy,
bodies moving with the mood.  

I see more apparitions,
ghosts like swirling vapors rising, 
shaking off the years
and stepping briskly
into the passing parade—
soldiers who’d fallen 
on the fields of battle, 
marching ragged and proud, 
statesmen, peasants,
preachers and sinners—

all roused and moving
through the dead leaves swirling,
their shadowed procession 
joining the aggregation,
one long snaking, strutting,
testifying, glorifying,
venerating, celebrating,
pure-hearted dance, 
a joined musical jubilee—
the dead and undead.

And I pause to wonder...which am I?
And does it really matter after all?

-Larkin Edwin Greer