“I just cost that kid a perfect game.” -Jim Joyce
first base umpire who called the batter safe when he should’ve been called out
The umpire blew the call.
Watched its curveball breath sail away like an errant throw
from an off-balanced shortstop in the hole
over a first
The young Venezuelan pitcher did not throw a perfect game.
It was ruled he did not beat the runner to the bag
bang-bang play at first.
And when the game ended,
his manager stormed out of the dugout,
a thundercloud of profanities hailing a downpour of insults—
while the umpire stood there knowing he deserved
every lighting-rod word,
like a weatherman facing the camera
who sometimes doesn’t predict the rain.
My parents told me I was conceived there during opening night
of American Graffiti,
perhaps explaining why I always found Richie Cunningham
cooler than The Fonz,
and greasy spoons preferential to French bistros.
On lucky Saturday nights the Volvo was our four-star restaurant,
the only time we had a family dinner:
foil-wrapped beaming Mexican mummies unwound,
becoming bean burrito delicacies during dusk.
Dad stared through the grainy images on the screen
murmuring, “Ain’t this the life,”
right about the time I learned what a rhetorical question was,
unsure if he was asking us or trying to convince himself.
Mom commented how the elevated front of each car
reminded her of caring for newly sprained ankles.
My only concern, whether or not we got to stay for
the second feature.
Serrated elbows flew like a maiming game of tag,
my brother and I positioning for
the best view in the back seat of the sedan,
as if that’s not an oxymoron.
(Some of the bruises still have not gone away.)
The speaker hooked on the driver’s side window
reminded us how poor we were,
as if only one ear worthy of sound.
Yesterday at the mega-gamma-super-colossal-plex
where 3D images leap from the screen as if experiencing
the buoyancy of reality for the first time,
my six year-old daughter asked,
“What’s a drive-in?”
Should I have told her it’s where families went to get away
Or it’s the poorman’s cinema:
where if you listen hard enough,
you can hear the clanking
of fallen silverware.