The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: July, 2011

Sunday Poem

The Origin of Baseball
by Kenneth Patchen

Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren’t enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke – “Time,” they’d say, “what’s
That mean – Time?”, laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a mad house. And he’d stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, “Can’t you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?” But down
Again, there’d be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.

So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.

© Kenneth Patchen 1942


Is there, we ask, some secret language which we feel and see,

but never speak, and, if so, could this be made visible to the eye?

–Virginia Woolf

And if it could be made visible to the eye, would it take the shape of the frogs crushed under the family’s van wheel that summer you were fifteen and there were so many frogs that you were sure they had fallen from the sky; would it be lush and rounded–cumulus-like–or would it be the wispy smoke that hung around your husband’s head in those first years you knew him? Looking more closely, what would you see? The faint profile of your neverborn child, the discarded peel of mango, a flash of light from an ambulance, a broken beer bottle in the cul-de-sac? And if you did see it, would you know? And if you knew, would you do anything different? Would you leave the mango–whole and untouched–in the wooden fruit bowl? Would you not run barefoot in the cul-de-sac underneath that slippery star-filled sky? Would you wish the frogs hadn’t invaded town that summer? And if you did, how would you remember that summer now? Would you?

Longing #32

I want to live a life where I’m so overcome by love that I forget to do the laundry.

But I want clean laundry too.

When Small Things Loom

after Bruce Bromley

(The day was as hot as the room was small. The woman had taken to stealing: a hair tie a house guest had left; a gaze into the window-glass; spare images; titles. There certainly were small things on the earth, she knew that, even sitting on such a big chair beneath such a big sun. There were the ants her daughter poked with a stick; there was the stick itself; there was her daughter. But the heat was hard that Friday, so hard it wasn’t heat anymore. She thought of her old friend who lived with a stop-watch and then, quite suddenly, remembered the sundial her father had given her when she was a girl, how it melted one July, how she’d never be able to pass it down.)


After the tornado, my father-in-law revised his list of emergency supplies. Bottled water, check books, flashlights: all those remain. But now, in addition: a shovel, in case you have to dig yourself out; a whistle, because phones are useless; dust masks, leather gloves, bicycle helmets, a weather radio for when the cable goes, a Sharpie.

A Sharpie? I asked.

To label yourself, he said. And your kids. Just in case anybody gets lost.

A Quarter

for your peace of mind

Next Stop: Here

Being on a train always gives me the most peculiar sensation of having arrived. There’s something about the tracks and the movement and the sky, the little bit of shore, the off-kilter conversations, the men in hats who come by punching holes into tickets, that makes me think: this is where I’ve always been meant to be.

Except, of course, I’m nowhere. I’m just in-between places.

This morning, between Boston and New York, I read this book, and I was so floored by it, I made the lady next to me–the one in the blue windbreaker and the Keds–read it too. And she did. Cover-to-cover. And I was really glad we didn’t speak after, only gave each other a sort of nod, and then right before we pulled into the last station–as if this is how we most accurately speak to a stranger–she took my empty fruit cup and threw it away for me.