"Men's League Softball, Gillette, Wyoming"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 5 2009 6:40 AM

"Men's League Softball, Gillette, Wyoming"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Lucas Howell read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes..

Out of the broad, open land they come.
Out of a coal seam's
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$hundred-thousand tons
of overburden, out of shit-reek barns
and shearing pens,
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$or down from the powder blue
derrick platforms of howling Cyclone rigs
they rung by rung descend.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$They come bearing the weight
of lives and labor on their boot heels,
a week of night shifts,
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$or the prairie sun's relentless arc.
But here, beneath the lights of Bicentennial Park,
these men work the stiffness
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$**$$$$from their shoulders,
crow-hop and sling the ball sharply
around the horn. No matter
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$who they've become
in the years since boyhood, the game's 
muscular beauty remains.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$And the small victories
sustain them—a well-timed swing, or dusty
headfirst-dive for home—
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$as they disband,
again, into the world from which
they take their living.

.

Lucas Howell lives in Gillette, Wyo., where he works in the oil and gas fields of the Powder River Basin. He is a 2007 graduate of the MFA program at the University of Idaho.