Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 4: Softball Team, Pep Band, Peter Thabit Jones, "Elephant Seals," Off the Top of My Head

But he made it a point of telling his son, "Never take your good looks or coloring as something better."  Although many of his son's classmates at Corpus and later high school were black and Spanish-speaking kids, Ives went a step further and encouraged his son to join a Harlem baseball league.  For several years Robert had the distinction of being the only white boy, playing left field, on a softball team called the Harlem Ravens, which made it into third and fourth place in the city two years running.  He eventually had to quit because he was always getting jumped and coming home covered with bruises and with other injuries, about which he never complained but which broke his parents' hearts and tested Ives' convictions.

Among other things, Ives' story is one about the problem of race and poverty in the United States.  Ives is constantly making donations to community centers, and his wife makes a point of substitute teaching in inner-city schools, where she talks to the students about hope and the ability to rise above racial and social limitations.  The Ives family really tries to be color blind, despite the fact that their son is the target of racial violence.

But this post is not about the racial divide in the United States.  It's about sports.  I spent this evening in a high school gym, watching a basketball game.  Now that football season is over, my daughter--who plays in the school pep band--has moved indoors.  It was much more comfortable.  The bleachers were just as ass-numbing, but I did not have to contend with rain or snow or frost on my pumpkins.

My daughter's pep band sounded great.  Loud.  It felt like I was sitting inside a kettle drum.  Lots of thumping and trumpets.  By the time we left, my daughter's ears were ringing, and the kids were underneath the bleachers, combing through the garbage and doing God-knows-what else.

That's what I have for you guys tonight.  Race and basketball games and pep bands.  Tomorrow is my daughter's fifteenth birthday, so I expect lots of sulking and eye-rolling.  Maybe even some stomping and crying.

Saint Marty misses the days when his daughter was five years old.  She actually cried and stomped and sulked a lot less back then.

And now, another memory from Big Sur...

Elephant Seals
(for Carolyn and John)

by:  Peter Thabit Jones

They loll just like an unruly army,
Tired and stressed by their sea-playing day.

A colony of overweight, naked
Colonels; Mirounga augustirostris;

Living logs, oiled-up and stone-rock coloured
Blubber, they huddle like a dying herd

Of couch-size maggots.  They burp and shriek:
A strange pantomime at the ocean's edge.

Gregarious sunbathers now wind-blown;
One flicks up sand, as two others stretch high

And aggressively fawn, a ritual,
As they bite and show their salmon-pink throats.

Some check our presence with doleful eyes,
Others grossly crawl-flap to the water;

One elegantly moves through satin waves;
Several, farther out, head-bob around

Like bald men basking in holiday sun.
A weird sculpture sprawled out on the shore,

Performance art by drunken aliens,
They move and moan, an abandoned lament;

A shipwreck of creatures overlapping
Their woes, they litter the place like loafers.

Part-comic, part-tragic, they lie behind
Big Sur's fast road and the three-seeking cars.

Off the Top of My Head

No comments:

Post a Comment