Almost two hundred feet to dead center
from the box spray-painted black,
below the neck and just above the shins,
on a gray brick wall in between two caged windows
that stank piss rivers of Nighttrain
first and second graders wade through during recess
across broken glass bits from
scattered empties on rubbled concrete,
the cheaply made $1.49 rubber baseball
bought at the supermercado on Wilson Avenue
landed past four gangbangers, each
no older than fourteen, probably Latin Kings,
sporting their black or white Filas,
dribble through the alley
on route to shoot some hoops nearby
on the other side, who stop, laughing
confident, aloud as if to taunt "throw me
that shit and watch it orbit"
over the peeling green metal fence,
usually a ground rule double.
Uncle Charlie hung,
Mo said to himself
and gripped four seams.
Willie backpedalled before stopping,
like Al Smith, waiting for beer
to be poured on his head
as the ball, once white, now pinkish gray
slammed against the rear of the storefront building
ten feet past the fence.
up two to one
bottom of the fifth
man on third
Neck craned skyward,
Mo begged Divine Providence, crossed himself
like Davey Concepcion used to
before the pitch
"one more measly out."
An old black lady, nearly seventy,
sitting on her backporch up three flights
facing the schoolyard off the alley fence
used to mark the imaginary rightfield foul lines
when Farrell the biggest guy we know
pulled a speed limit fastball right
in his wheelhouse onto the tarred rooftop
of the church with a huge orange
neon JESUS SAVES sign about a hundred feet high,
another foulball, lost donation ,
a buck and a half write-off to the collection plate.
Off the asphalted crack, the mound,
maybe sixty counted-off paces away from the wall
Mo whipped the last new ball
Farrell threw at him out of the bag
repeatedly against the reinforced
steel doors, hoping to knock out
some of its bounce,
liveliness as often cheap flyballs,
popups, end up carrying
just enough for a homerun.
Farrell stepped up to the plate,
aimed his bat at Mo chuckling.