IN SEARCH OF THAT THIRD STRIKEOUT
He's on the mound.
stares down on the batter.
He's in command.
Sure there are guys behind him
crouched like leopards ready to pounce
but they're not needed.
And that trio of outfield swaggerers
could just as easily
have stayed on the bench.
There's already two out in the inning.
They're still checking their bats
to make sure there's actually wood
beyond the handle.
The catcher's glove still smokes
from the last strikeout.
The next hitter up
looks resigned to his fate
like an aristocrat
bound for the guillotine.
Executioners showed no mercy then.
They don't now.
Everyone in the crowd is standing.
They all were baying wolves in another life.
Some kids in the stand
brandish a supply of cardboard K's.
he wallpapering has already begun.
He goes into his windup.
His arm's like a helicopter blade
just before takeoff.
The pitch is perfect, letter high,
a hundred miles an hour and counting.
The sucker at the plate hangs out his lumber,
accidentally hits the ball.
It dribbles toward third.
He beats out the throw.
The dismayed crowd sits down
like a ten thousand ton sigh.
The pitcher gnashes his teeth at the runner on first base,
the new man in the batter's box
and the poet who jinxed him.