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The Inside of Dick Allen’s Batting Helmet

I look upon this as I imagine Rilke looked upon that statue of Apollo, or as Frank Sinatra first looked upon the naked bestowals of Ava Gardner.

The image journeys through my eyes, down my throat and into the flame-licked meadow of my guts, and all that is wrong or inadequate or too purple or too loosed from its moorings during last night’s storm recoils. It recoils not for fear of the unnamed something but rather in order to stop and listen to a sound that is at once the annihilation of ancient leaves under Charlemagne’s boot and the fife-and-drum corps that heralds the simultaneous birth and death and spectral presence of a great man. Or perhaps the screams of a pumice stone at the river’s edge.

Swing low, baseball’s chariot: I have laid eyes — yellowed, rheumy eyes — upon The Inside of Dick Allen’s Batting Helmet …