Ten Cents a Dance

barb

The Babe Ruth Museum on Emory Street where the Sultan of Swat was born is also the ground zero of Barbara DeCesare’s multi-syllabic night life. “I’ve crashed—on couches—on nearby Paca, Eutaw, Lemmon Streets. Big Bam’s ghost—he knows me. Bummed a smoke off me, once.”

Miss DeCesare, who plays Second Base for the Sir Lord Baltimores, knows a thing or two about swinging ahead of a tight fastball, and out-of-the-park celebrity. And, being the sort who calls-out people on their fables, she finds more complexity in his demise when the older Ruth hustled what dollars he could by hitting balls past the breakers off Atlantic City.

You Always Have Your Whole Life Ahead of You
For G. H. Ruth, Jr.

I do not have my entire life ahead of me. – U. Harris

Your wife already died in the fire
in the dentist’s house, where she lived as his wife.

We could say things are going badly,
but the cancer you’re brewing might disagree.

All the jobs available to you extract dignity like tax.
Let’s agree this is not the least of your worries.

Something changes. It’s night. September. Jones Beach.
The Friendly’s is still open above the West Bath House.

A thousand people swim dark water.
You take the baseballs, glowing white, to the shore

and hit them, two and three hanging in the air at a time,
sailing over the breakers. They are meteors beaming

then bobbing in the waves and no one minds or notices
the breath each gives up to take in their beauty.

The crowd is offering you, by holding their breaths in gasps,
a moment of their own existence,

gifts that sail into you as the phosphorescent lights
streak the sky.

This must be some kind of love. Your heart is open and empty
and eager, like a waiting mitt.

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