George & Angela Bowering
WHAT CHILD? Babe, they called him, and he does have a baby face. The eyes are the eyes of damaged babyhood; one of them dead-cold, flat; the other grief-stricken. He holds the grooved wood handle of the Louisville Slugger loosely, one hand long, thin-fingered, the other thick- fingered, a butcher's hand -- too long a time spent handling meat. The slugger is held in the place where his penis would rise, as it did -- a prodigious womanizer he was, according to the rumours. He used it like a Louisville Slugger, bashing women when he wasnt bashing baseballs, making his runs for home that way. The thick hair on his left wrist is surprising. It makes him look like a man instead of a slug. The rest of him is slumped baby fat, his fat neck hardly able to hold up his baby-boy head with its silly New York Yankees cap flattening to one side, frayed at the edges. He is an overgrown baby, this Babe with his fat little thighs. What happened to that baby who looks out of those eyes that together tell his story? Baseball bat, phallus and bottle. Painkillers, pain inflictors.The black and white stripes of that classic uniform, Platonic ideal of all baseball uniforms -- nothing else can touch it -- is repeated in the wall behind him, half black, half white. Yin Yang. A woman in one eye, telling of pain; a killer in the other, Mafioso-dead. The corners of the mouth pulled straight out and down: Tweedle-Dum, Tweedle-Dee, Humpty Dumpty mouth, a dimple in his chin to win a fortune, Cro-Magnon brow ridge over a baby face, the man they named a chocolate bar for. The silhouette of Sweeney. No power in that body, that face. Where did it come from -- the hatred that hit the ball? Out of that damaged babyhood? The jawline soft, sliding into soft, fat neck. Buried so deep in that flabby body only hitting the ball, fucking women -- what would be called assault with a deadly weapon if it were translated into violence against men -- hatred and grief buried layers deep in unloved baby fat.
|The East Village Poetry Web