Goodwin put himself at the mercy
of arrogant young men,
asking for their autographs
as if he were a streetcorner bum
with a sign around his neck
proclaiming himself homeless and hungry.
Worth the humiliation?
You have to wonder,
watching with a kind of horror
from the stands
as he offers pen and baseball
to the musclebound infielder
whose name you don’t know
but suspect is just a journeyman shortstop,
certainly not Hall of Fame material.
The hunk grandly scribbles across the ball
and tosses it back at Goodwin,
who stumbles backward as he catches it,
like the nebbish in the cartoons
about Middle eastern sultans
who bows himself out
of the sheikh’s presence
in obsequious gratitude.
“…this was the price to be paid for loving a mortal: the ever-present risk of death” – Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships
Hey, we’re all mortals here, n’est-ce pas?
This isn’t a Greek myth.
We aren’t a zig-zag of stars
pasted on the night sky.
Heidegger called it Sein-zum-Tode.
Beings for death;
“born to die, to ask why.”
All the mortal beings I have loved,
continue to love,
all that potential broken-heartedness.
Yes, there are myths about this.
“All set, Julian,” the uniformed TSA officer
moves me on to the conveyor belts
to empty my pockets into a kitty litter tray,
having scanned my boarding pass
like a bomb-sniffing dog.
“OK, Deborah,” her toneless permission
for my wife to follow me,
lugging her rolling carry-on after me
like a ball and chain.
In real life we go by Charles and Abby,
though our passports and driver’s licenses
list us by first name-last name.
Do I feel like a secret agent
penetrating enemy lines?
Or do I feel like a prisoner?
© Charles Rammelkamp
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives with his wife Abby. He contributes a monthly book review to North of Oxford and is a frequent reviewer for The Lake, London Grip, Misfit Magazine and The Compulsive Reader. A poetry chapbook, Mortal Coil, was published in 2021 by Clare Songbirds Publishing and another, Sparring Partners, by Moonstone Press. A full-length collection, The Field of Happiness, will be published in 2022 by Kelsay Books.