Three Baseball References in Dave Berman’s Actual Air

David Berman’s Actual Air isn’t the reason I started writing poems — it was to impress fine ladies that I did that. Nor was it the first book to change my entire notion of what poems could be — some combination of Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End and Kenneth Koch’s entire oeuvre did that.

Indeed, I was rather skeptical of Berman’s book when I first saw it — on account of he was a musician, is why, and musicians are famously unashamed of everything, whereas writing good poems requires a great deal of shame. Endless shame, really.

In the interest of making a rather short story even shorter, what happened is, is I did eventually read and did very much liked David Berman’s first and only book. For a number of reasons, certainly, is why I enjoyed it — but a relevant one to this blog are the numerous references to baseball and/or baseball things.

References like these three which follow. (Note: links are available to the first two poems. I was unable to find the Cantos online, however.)

From Community College in the Rain:

Announcement: Today we will discuss the energy in a wing
and something about first basemen.


From The Charm of 5:30:

I am remembering how my friend Chip showed up
with a catcher’s mask hanging from his belt and how I said

great to see you, sit down, have a beer, how are you,
and how he turned to me with the sunset reflecting off his contacts
and said, wonderful, how are you.


From from Cantos for James Michener: Part I

Still disturbed by the size of softballs.

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it’s true. softballs are disturbing.

Steve Balboni

Innaresting. Baseball makes no explicit appearance here, but Game 4 of the 1986 ALCS is implicit throughout:

The Darker Sooner
By Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.