Back to Issue Forty-Two

West Perrine Park (The Big Park)


… it gave these black men their poetry — Howard Bryant

A white boy asked me to walk him to the bathroom before
a baseball game at a public park where my father was once

pseudonymed myth, he (Eight The Snake), and a generation
of Hellcats (Peewee, Crow, Rome, Termite, and others) had

been good for pockets and bad for business as fans won
ends on the weekend betting and rooting for the home team—

everyone in their Easter Sunday, straight-from-the-pew,
alabaster best (or home whites), swaying behind home plate

and sprinkled down the right field line like sea foam teasing
the shore—then decided to opt out of the grinding march

of money making come Monday; what the boy seemed too
afraid to understand was that all the men crowding around

the teal, worn-metal bleachers behind the dugout were arguing
about the Dolphins or playing the dozens or sipping grape soda

or rolling bones or narrating the sweat-ballet unfurling atop
the two-toned green and pink-red basketball court and all

those men would soon be rooting for him because he was
wearing orange and green; what was unseen were the tightened

black backs of the men that built the field he could now
extend his dreams on; I think he homered that day, rounding

the bases with a surprised smile as the Hellcats of old tapered
a fade or faded from memory; he always played better on this

hallowed ground he couldn’t divorce from phantom echoes
of bullets and blood. I walked the boy across the second, unused

court to the bathroom, our metal cleats tapping a tune of pregame
buzz and jitters, while a mother weaved box braids into her daughter’s

hair down the left field line and the memories of a Milk Man
with no milk, hung like fog in the air around the backstop—

Bubble Gum Stadium they called it.


Jalen Eutsey is a poet and freelance writer from Miami, Florida. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Hopkins Review, Poetry Northwest, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing to teens and young adults as an instructor for the Writers in Baltimore Schools and Baltimore Youth Film Arts programs. He received an MFA in Poetry from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

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