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Unread 09-02-2021, 11:17 AM
RCL's Avatar
RCL RCL is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,297
Default Up in the air!

Here's one on a sport I haven't tried but observe on most clear days near my home:

We hug the earth,--how rarely we mount!
Methinks we might elevate ourselves a little more.

Thoreau, “Walking”

The Hang Glider

It is said transcendent souls inform us:
I sometimes think
Mine is like a soaring hang glider’s

Shadow, sauntering across mountains
On sunny days,
Skipping over tree tops, disappearing

Behind a grove or into a deep crevice
And popping up
On a clean-swept shale slope,

Huge, much larger than the glider,
Far less defined,
Almost amoebic as it slinks its way

Across unleveled earth—but then contracts
As the glider
Swiftly sinks toward its safe ground,

The shadow moving ever more slowly,
As if waiting
For its substance to catch up with it.

If that shadow’s anything like a soul,
It’s most active
When a body willfully transcends it,

Most indolent when the body hugs it
Too tight to earth.

Last edited by RCL; 09-02-2021 at 11:23 AM.
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Unread 09-02-2021, 03:40 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 3,520

John Isbell: "We have a saying in the game which goes like this: When a ball dreams, it dreams it's a Frisbee."

That is brilliant.
A frisbee's flight when thrown right is as if it is exploring another dimension.

I love throwing a frisbee, especially on a beach, but have never played ultimate frisbee. If I were living on a campus my grades would suffer at the expense of the frisbee.

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Unread 09-02-2021, 11:15 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,630

Hi Jim, hi Ralph,

Jim: I'm glad you like the quote! Thank you for your insight into it, it's been with me now for many years. Yes, discs will do strange things beyond the scope of spheres, that's just how it is in aerodynamics. I've spent many years, again, working on just that - wasting time, indeed, if time is ever wasted.

Ralph: what a lovely poem! I have a hang glider poem as well. It's about a good friend's death, and I am happy to remember him here. His name was Fabrice:

The Blue Sky Overhead

Fabrice, you child of summer, when you fell
along the rock face, your team was not there
to move you down the field in pass and cut
and catch to score. We’d all left La Défense,

where we had showed our pastime to the French –
we’d left the happy field of play. You climbed
alone that day into the sky. And when
you rode that updraft through the shining air,

what glory! though it took you into rock,
where your art had no purchase and you fell.
And did the Earth embrace you, when you came
wrapped in your glider to its arms? Did you

give up your spirit to the tender hands
of those who watch upon the young? You were
not thirty. I still see your happy face;
the sun of June; the blue sky overhead.

And so, that story ended. But for me,
I choose not to accept this. I prefer
to take the pass. Fabrice is cutting yet
into the endzone here. He’s worth a bet.
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Unread 09-03-2021, 06:09 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,630

And in honor of my long-gone cricketing days (left arm round the wicket), here is Michael Green:

Michael Green
From 'The Book of Coarse Sport' (1965)

An Ancient Cricketer goeth in to bat.

It is an Ancient Cricketer
And he stoppeth one of three.
The others whistle past his ear
Or strike him on the knee.

The pavilion gate is open wide
And he is last man in.
With creaking joints he walketh forth,
Thirty to make to win.

He sendeth a catch to first slip, who droppeth it.

His bat is in his skinny hand,
There are three slips thinks he.
He snicks a ball up to the first,
Eftsoons the catch drops he.

His opponents beat their bosoms.

A chance! A chance! Another chance!
The Cricketer giveth three.
The fielding captain beats his breast
And curseth him roundly.

The field was there, the field was here,
So thick upon the ground;
They crouched and growled, appealed and howled
The Cricketer’s bat around.

Fielders, fielders, everywhere,
About his bat did creep.
Fielders, fielders everywhere,
Nor anyone in the deep.

The Cricketer doth fear he hath a hole in his bat.

God save thee, Ancient Cricketer!
Have mercy on thy soul!
Like many men before thee gone,
Thy bat must have an hole.

Yet still the Cricketer batteth on,
A full half-hour bats he.
He doth not score a single run
Though he trieth mightily.

Although he scoreth no runs, the Cricketer helpeth his side to win.

‘Tis done! ‘Tis done! The game is won
And well and truly fought,
The Cricketer limpeth happily in
Although his score was nought.

He batteth best, who scoreth most,
And hath but little luck.
Yet though the Cricketer made no runs
It was a noble duck.
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Unread 09-03-2021, 07:54 AM
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 1,790

These are great, John; very much enjoyed :-)

Hmm, sport. Well, I have a rather dreary poem about Arthur Arthritis turning up during a netball match when I was 12; no one wants to read that, I'm sure. The rest is all rather whimsical and anecdotal, lol. But we'll give it some thought.

Fliss & Coo :>)
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Unread 09-04-2021, 07:02 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 3,520

Cricket stymies me — as I'm sure baseball does to the English. Never the twain shall meet, I guess, though they are blood relatives.

That tennis poem is horrendous! Thanks, though for trying : ) It just doesn't do justice to the game, I don't think.

Ralph, you are a prolific, irrepressible poet. I wish things would roll out of me more easily.

Still working on cobbling together that baseball ballad I wrote once about my son's summer traveling baseball team. It seems to have gone down a hole. FWIW, here's the only part I remember. "Grogie" (long "o") was the team's manager. Kevin Grogan, if you're listening. He'd handle everything from scheduling to traveling to raking/grooming the field before games. He poured his heart out to make the boys dream.

Ode To Grogie (Long "o")

Out of the cornfields of Milton
A guy named Grogie came
with a wagon full of baseballs and a rake.
He said, "Last night The Babe appeared in my dream
and said, 'Hey Grogie, go build a team'"
so for the summer our sons he did take.

...Grogie was his name and baseball was his game
...springtime summertime any old time at all
...Double doubleheader, triple triple tripleheader,
...night or day the more the better
...Music to his ears was, "Let's Play Ball!"

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Unread 09-04-2021, 07:37 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,630

Hi Jim,

Yes to your Betjeman tennis poem review - the man was poet laureate, you know! Not the best poet of the lot, I think.
I like the Grogie ode, especially the rake line. The Coleridge parody I think requires a cricket lexicon, which I suspect is larger than a baseball lexicon. More weird names.

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Unread 09-04-2021, 10:00 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Location: Old South Wales (UK)
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William Scammell wrote a whole book of tennis poems - The Game. I am hunting for my copy. It has a picture of Suzanne Lenglen on the cover...
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Unread 09-04-2021, 12:31 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
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Ann: "William Scammell wrote a whole book of tennis poems - The Game. I am hunting for my copy. It has a picture of Suzanne Lenglen on the cover..."

Wow a whole book of them! One's got to stand out... Thanks for the heads up— I'll look around for it. Tennis is a back-and-forth game. It's got a lot of love in it. And grunting. I played it all my life. We called ourselves tennis rats. We'd hang at the courts all day looking for pick up games, scavenging for lost balls, kicking the soda vending machine to get free cokes and sometimes coins, sneaking onto the adjacent golf course to the par three 9th hole where we had become experts at landing the golf ball on the green in one using a tennis racquet and the birdie-ing the hole using the butt of our racquet — trying not to get caught doing it.

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Unread 11-15-2021, 11:11 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is online now
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA; Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 10,958

Forgot all about this one. From my first book again, but on a sport we haven't covered yet.

Muhammad Ali Entered My Dream Just to Say Hello

We talked mostly pussy,
two old guys trading brags and stories
old style, toe-to-toe, center of the ring,
nobody taking a backward step.
BAM! Nothing on under the dress BAP!
POP-POP-POP then her other sister BING!
Folks could hear them yelling my name POW!
and by about the fourth round
I was in trouble, mouth breathing, arm punches,
couldn’t match his speed and moves
You can get them little motor homes to rocking
and all that joy and beauty.

So I switched to boxing,
told him how I saw him win the Golden Gloves,
delicious Cassius Clay from Louisville
seventeen years young
taking apart some gnarly old British semi-pro;
and we talked about Manila and Sonny Banks
and Cleveland Big Cat Williams and Sonny Liston
on his back in Maine
and eventually, of course, about that night in Zaire
with big George Foreman BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM
pounding him into the ropes in the eighth round,
Ali absorbing it all
(helped by those loose ropes),
then sliding off to SNAP a jab, and SNAP-SNAP
two more, and WHAP, a right, and WHAP-WHAP-WHAP-WHAP-WHAP until
big George Foreman
destroyer of men, pulverizer of Joe Frazier,
choking on spiders,

He told me about losing the title to Leon Spinks,
and getting into shape and winning it back,
and the crazy fight in Tokyo with the Japanese wrestler
who kicked the life out of his legs,
and how he came back from that to knock out Larry Holmes,
to win his fourth title, to be The Greatest Ever.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell him
that he lost the Holmes fight,
that he was so badly beat up that twice
Holmes begged the referee to stop it
before he killed a man,
and that finally the corner threw in a white towel.
How could I say anything?
It was only a dream and it was his dream now also,
inside my dream of that beautiful seventeen year old boy
dancing in circles in Madison Square Garden
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