“Playing Stickball With Robbie Shea,” by Mark Lukeman

This piece, published in 1988, reminds me of playing ball in the backyard with my brothers growing up.  We didn’t have “real” baseball equipment for the longest time, so we improvised.  A pitchfork handle would’ve been too big, but we broke the handle off a toy vacuum, and that worked well with a tennis ball.


At the wall
we play suburban stickball,
bat with a pitchfork handle
my grandfather
cut from his garden.
We pitch
tennis balls
as crisp apples.
Strips of electrical
mark the strike zone
red school brick.
Rob throws strikes.
I swing hard
and miss. Robbie is so much better than me.
But today
the sky is blue,
summer is in our bones,
and so many things don’t count yet.

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