Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: "Eddie Mathews & The National Pastime"

Eddie Mathews And The National PastimeEddie Mathews And The National Pastime by Eddie Mathews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eddie Mathews was a favorite player of my childhood, probably my second favorite after Norm Cash. Having read co-author Bob Bruege's excellent history of the Milwaukee Braves, I expected this to be mostly written by him. Honestly, I pretty much expected The Joe Shlobotnik Story. it wasn't like that at all. The great majority of the book is told in Mathews' own voice and it reads like spending an evening listening to an old friend. Bruege merely adds a page or two at the end of each chapter (except the final one) to add the things that the modest Mr. Mathews left out.

One of the best things about this book is that it gave me a real sense of what it was like to be a ball player in the 50s and 60s. He starts with being a minor leaguer and goes all the way through his post-playing days as a manager and scout. I really loved the early chapters about his days playing for the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, and the middle section about his experiences during the heyday of the Milwaukee major league club. And, of course, as a Tiger fan, I loved reading about his final season and a half, playing for the Detroit team.

Eddie Mathews is plainspoken, down to earth, and a good story teller--but without crossing certain lines a la "Ball Four" and other expose-type baseball books. Parts of the book struck me as quite sad. The whole book fairly swims in alcohol, and after 3 marriages and a succession of jobs after his playing days ended, I felt like such a great player and decent guy ended up kind of on the down side, a little bit. I would have wished happier times for the slugger I cheered for at Tiger Stadium when I was 12 and 13 and loved baseball in a way that only kids can. Highly recommended for anyone with any interest at all in the subject matter.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

4th Century Social Media

Flavius Julius Valens Augustus checks his Facebook page
and discovers that he has been trolled again by the Visigoths.
They make memes insulting him.
They go into hysterics criticizing his hair and nose.

He types in his status: "Stop doing this II me. What do you do it IV?"
He adds a sad emoji.
"Why all the hVIII?"

But the Visigoths keep trolling him.
They send a new meme showing a sausage with a face wearing lederhosen.
It says, "Bite me." He unfriends them, but one day they will prevail. 

Mini-challenge: "not what we came to see"


Thursday, August 18, 2016


The train that I took out of London seven years ago
appeared in my dream last night.
It had dinner plate wheels and hung on a chain that hoisted it up to a mailbox
where letters spread their wings to dry.

The train that I took out of London seven years ago 
only moves in one direction: away, and yet there it was,
undeparted, filling like a lung.
I have sung everything into the parish poor box--

those things I loved most, first to go.
I have sung until I am mute, and as unsentimental as an oxygen tank.
The priest cut off his ears and put them in my pocket
like coins. I told him his wish is dust, and he turned into Jericho's wall.

The train that I took out of London seven years ago
took off its clothes and reported my movements from memory.
The tracks only go in one direction: away, and yet there I was;
I woke up in love, a stone in flight, a letter with no address,

a dove that left its light down a well, yet sings in the dark when I'm gone. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bee On My Tongue

There is a blush on my cheeks,
the devil in my eye,
and an angel on my shoulder.

I am a red leaf on a white breeze.
I am the woman who can be counted on
not to do what you have told her.

Still, hold me.
Fuck me if you want.
I'll be waiting for the moment when I speak of my desire. 

As a girl, I went to school
and church as I was bidden.
I learned a lot on empty pews in the dark long after choir.

hold me. Wrap me up and say I'm home.
I'll press my lips so silent-grateful to your ear.

On my tongue, a hidden bee;
queen of sweetness, queen of sting--
feel my fingers in your hair. Hear and shiver. Show no fear.

for Magaly's mini-challenge at Real Toads. Obviously, I wrote about bee #3.

Friday, August 12, 2016


In Rosebush, Tammy left her face on the tavern wall, as per tradition.
It still speaks voiceless poems, but there's been damage to both ears.
In Ishpeming, Lilah screwed the city council one by one, all sexes.
This altered the zoning requirements for her perfect ass. Expiry: five years.

Mount Pleasant hasn't got a hill higher than a cardboard box,
and the gurus all drop their donations at the casino in hopes of a big score.
Behind the development, I showed Kim the streamy trails,
but a cross-breeze talked me into folding and spindling the trees into two-by-fours.

Dad, a Harvard man, had a raccoon coat
and a pennant in a suitcase at the back of the closet at home.
Me, I spend all my time kissing T's face at the tavern
but nobody's yet used to two girls like that and they bet, quite correct,

that I leave
stoned and blown
older, odder,
and alone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: "Bang Ditto"

Bang DittoBang Ditto by Amber Tamblyn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A friend introduced me to Amber Tamblyn's poetry and I was struck by the little bit that I read and so I bought this book. I wish could say that I liked it as much as I expected to. Tamblyn--daughter of actor Russ Tamblyn and an actress in her own right--truly does have a talent with words. Nothing tired or ordinary ever makes its way into her poetry. Someone who can craft lines like "a vegan blacking out in a glass of milk", "My friends lie to me like a government" and (to a watermelon seed) "I hope you fall in love with a beautiful watering can" has something going on.

However, two things bother me about Bang Ditto. One is, she doesn't seem to have something to say that is worthy of the writing skills she has. The other is that she seems to suffer from the unearned world-weariness common to 20-somethings and especially 20-something writer types. (I know whereof I speak--I was one of them!) Her language and her imagination are plenty enough to grab a reader's attention; she doesn't need the constant mildly vulgar asides and accent on the down side. I'm not suggesting she become some kind of Pollyanna, but we've all had a hangover, Amber. It isn't really very edgy to write about it.

Because she is an actress, there are some interesting pieces having to do with Hollywood, especially the hallucinogenic "The Black Tie Warren." One day, Amber Tamblyn may blow us all away with what she can write, but that time is not yet. She already has the tools, and is worlds better than such celeb "poets" as Richard Thomas, Suzanne Somers and even Jewel, but the substance isn't quite there yet. Watch this space. Until then, don't expect more than she can yet deliver.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016


His hero was there
at that party
being an ass.

I was there,
being an ass myself.

"What do you remember?" someone wanted to know,
when the poet
met the poet.

I said I remember him bumping the kitchen table
lumbering to the john.
Somebody mopped up the spilled drinks with an old shirt.

His hero was there.
He wasn't, but he defended his man crush like a defense attorney,
listing the titles and Apocrypha.

How wrong do I have to be
about my own memory
before he mercifully shuts the fuck up?

His hero was there
at that party
being an ass.

I was there,
and now I'm here
biting my tongue so as not to join him.

for Stevens, there at every disaster.