For Oscar Charleston. A poem.

Nine giants in a brand new Buick
screaming down a dirt road toward Shreveport.
The sun’s punched out for another hemisphere,
leaving the southern dusk to settle
on these nine giants in pressed suits
flying toward a doubleheader, double payday,
and that boy Oscar, the ball game on his mind,
doesn’t see the knoll in the dark.
Hits it. Detroit steel and Pittsburgh’s boys flip.
No time to yell, no time to think.

Wrong side of the tires run under the purple sky,
canvas top punched through by falling bats
and spikes. A fat crash and these nine giants all pour
like gravy into the ditch, the Buick’s engine
still running, nothing else makes a sound.

Sure as shit them boys are dead.

like God Himself broke breath in their chests,
all nine come strolling out from the wreck
looking brand new,
cool as they had to be.
Not a scratch, not a gash, not a whisper of dirt,
only a piece of the wood wheel in Oscar’s hands,
jagged, like he just cracked a broken bat single
past the shortstop.