Poems by Carl Haarer



(written after the sox won two in Anaheim)

i'm at a layover in dallas, thinking of allen ginsberg, jack kerouac, all those dead great "beat" writers who rambled on in verse about jazz and life and God and other stuff, and suddenly i'm in a mood to ramble....about the red sox, about those idiots that damon was talking about:

i have heard the howl of boylston street,
starting meekly, a dark whisper,
growing through a crescendo-tunnel of tears,
a dry cry rising toward yawkey way
as homeric ghosts of bucky dent
and buckner and boone and the babe
created torturous epics
along the beautiful, sad face of comm ave
and broadway and bunker hill ave
and hanover street and charles.
i have seen the weathered faces of grandfathers
who turned off the radio in the sixth inning,
not sure they could endure more heartbreak,
another winter of pinstriped snowflakes
hitting opposite field singles
in the ninth inning of their long lives.
i have seen hopeful children
rising from the sofas of scituate,
revere, nashua, worcester, dorchester,
newburyport, augusta...
the youth of hope and the hope of youth rising,
then falling, staring in disbelief
at the shattered avenue
that was the promise of victory.
i have seen all these things and i say:
it's time to kill the ghost!
the "idiots" have come to kill the ghost!
the iconoclastic idiots wearing red sox jerseys
have torn the rear view mirrors off their harleys
as they move only forward, devouring the present,
ignoring the past, as they dash a spike
through the heart of the heartless spectre
that's haunted new england,
in barns and condos,
in triple deckers and wellesley estates.
the beast shall die on halloween night.
the idiots will rise!
with bats in hand...the idiots will rise!
with their long hair and unshaven faces,
the idiots will rise!
smashing the balls of history
against the green monster,
bespattered with the tattooed screams of a dying past.
the wall shall become a mural of victory!
i see an old ballpark rising in triumph,
and i hear a city singing,
singing adolescent hymns of pure joy,
and from eastie to west roxbury,
from charlestown to southie,
from roxbury to brighton,
the idiots shall pour new wine into
an old wineskin-city that will burst with celebration!
and in sudbury, i see an old piano rising
from the murky depths of a suburban pond.
it sits suspended in air,
with a very large man at the keyboard,
playing "take me out to the ballgame."
he looks at the world and smiles,
takes off his yankee uniform,
throws it into the water below
and rises, naked and large,
into the crisp new england air,
drifting drifting away
until he is nothing,
nothing more.


(written before the sox/Yankees alcs series in nyc)

walking down seventh avenue
at three in the morning,
eaten by the shark of inertia or insomnia,
walking, thinking about baseball
as i pass the panhandler, the young lady
walking into a limo that reads "love 123"
in the window, a bunch of kids bundled up
outside a music superstore, waiting for
duran duran to show up in who knows
how many hours, and i wonder
why the yankees win and the red sox lose
in october. where in this neon canyon

is there an answer to the perpetual question
that makes new england scratch its head
in wonder, until all the leaves are gone
and every maple tree is bald and cold
and wondering how that blooper
knew exactly how far to fly, or how that
banjo hitter was able to loft one over the wall
at precisely that time, in that place?
if there's an answer in this tired, wired,
throbbing necessity of excess,
this manhattan,
i'm not seeing it.
they're just men playing a boy's game.
somebody hits, somebody pitches,
somebody catches a ball. that's it.
but if there's no mystery to the memory,
why has it been so long, so long,
since the red sox have won it all?

it's three a.m. in times square.
the produce truck drivers do their thing.
the hookers do their thing.
the panhandlers do their thing.
and tonight, the red sox and yankees
will do their thing, and i'll watch, and i'll
weigh in my mind words like "skill" and "fate"
and "determination" and "intelligence" and
"patience" and "strength" and "luck."
and maybe, when this is all over, i'll be able
to discard one neon word that's been
blinking, bright pink, since 1918:
the word "curse."


(red sox v cardinals)

deep in the night a cardinal flies, then falls, defeated,
limp as a hot dog wrapper in center field,
struggling to regain flight as thousands of big girls and boys
cheer like human motorcycles in the forever-green stands
of fenway park, thankful, elated, overwhelmed,
as their cleated children, their adopted, bearded sons,
jump and hug and pour champagne-shampoo
onto each other as the moon laughs on halloween night,
as the witches of the past throw away their brooms
and levitate into the bright cold air of a new world,
a world alive with possibility, hope, and a strange rightness
that is a new compass for all of new england;
and the fans of sorrow, acquainted with grief
are suddenly alive with the crisp joy of a championship.

the old testament of loss and pain will become outdated
as this one hundredth world series rolls the stone
from the grave of past indignities, enabling
the resurrection of hope from providence to burlington,
from laconia to north adams, from worcester to augusta,
from hyde park avenue to bennington street,
pasting smiles to the weary souls of the eighty year old

who's known only hardball heartache all his years,
creating duct tape memories of a midnight epiphany
for the seven year old who squints at the t.v.,
suddenly understanding why grown men on the field
are jumping up and down, just as mom and dad
are jumping up and down in the den,
and that boy or girl will start jumping up and down;
and that rhythm of joy, that spring in the step,
will stay within that little heart, very possibly, for a lifetime.

About the Author

Carl Haarer

Carl Haarer, of Salem, Massachusetts, graduated from Goshen College, where he studied poetry under Nick Lindsay and was published by Pinchpenny Press. He then earned an M.A. in writing at the University of New Hampshire, where his mentor was Charles Simic, former Poet Laureate of the United States. Carl has won the prestigious national Edward R. Murrow award five times for his work at WBZ Radio. In addition to his radio verse, he fills notebooks with more traditional poems.