March Madness, Frisbees, and Spring

With spring comes March Madness and flying discs and a burst of outdoor activities after months of being cooped up.  Here’s a Scott Bates poem that starts with the grace of a Kareem Abdul Jabbar hook shot but then goes on to show (through the use of a poetic emblem) that the poetry of playing basketball comes nowhere near the poetry of Juan and Jose throwing a frisbee.

My father tells me that he got the idea from his friend Kate Rinzler, who was on the board of Highlander Folk School and had been a teacher in an inner city elementary school in California. Looking for non-competitive sports for the kids, she introduced them to frisbees and they became tremendously skilled at throwing and catching.

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  • Gabriel Young

    What a lovely, lyrical piece. As a member of the frisbee team at St. Mary’s, I particularly appreciated this one, though reading your father’s poems is always a pleasant experience. Particularly with his poems about nature, he evokes deep feelings the reader in such an unadorned, unassuming way. Thanks for sharing, Robin.

    — Gabe

  • http://www.letschoosejoy.com Sue

    Just wonderful.

  • Dan

    Robin! Stuff in the air! Humans! Game balls! You cannot beat it! Here was my poetic effort, regarding Wakefield’s knuckler, on a good day, unhittable!

    Then Wakefield pitches! The ball goes nuts!
    With properties not fully known!
    It boogies! Break dances, zips North and South!
    Then glides through the strike zone!

    That ball does a twirl! A parry! A feint!
    As Wakefield omits the spin.
    To the batter it looks like the Boston Ballet
    After slightly too much gin.

    Or like Bird fakin to Ainge but hitting’ McHale,
    Or the puck on the stick of Bourque!
    Or like Brady and Branch fakin three backs
    Into a clockwise torque!

    The ball’s seam just seems to be grinning
    As it advances, all unspinned!
    A baffler of baseball’s very best bats!
    A plaything of the wind!

    When that ball gets halfway to home,
    (Whatever the batters pluck,)
    He still is looking for some kind of clue
    ‘Bout whether to swing, or duck!

    There’s nothing as funny as watching a Yank
    Doing’ a pretzel gyration
    With slapstick heretofore reserved
    For Disney animation!

    Wakefield delivers three innings
    Of knucklers all over the place!
    ‘Twixt playful ball and wailing’ bat
    Are huge quantities of Space!

    ( Of course, as everybody recalls, this was in game five of the 2004 Red Sox / Yankee Series from The Ballad of The Beantowne Bosox”) you cannot beat Poetry about stuff in the air! Isn’t that what poetry is all about?)

  • Robin Bates

    The 2004 Bosox win, which shattered the curse of the Bambino in one of most dramatic victories ever, is the gift that keeps giving. I see that my cousin Dan Bates’s Ballad of the Beantowne Bosox, from which this is excerpted, is still available on Amazon. But here’s an existential question, Dan: did the Red Sox sully this magnificent win by winning the series again a couple of years later? Wouldn’t it have been more poetic for them to have waited for another one hundred years.


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