Tony Gloeggler


You're sick of the snow
blowing against windows,
sick of this D train
stuck between Brooklyn
and Manhattan, sick
of scanning sports pages
filled with lock outs and scabs
when this lanky black man
strides in from the next car
like it's the ninth inning
and he's answering a call
to the bull pen. He's wearing
a St. Louis Browns uniform,
number 27, and dragging
a Hefty bag of rags.
You fold the paper,
pray he doesn't smell
like the dead and get
ready to recite, "Sorry man,
catch you next time" when
he stops in front of you,
extends his hand and says,
"Satch Paige is my name."
Satchel Leroy Paige dies
in Kansas City, June
eighth, 1982. But this guy
looks like he stepped
out of every photograph
taken in his prime. You smile,
tell him your name and pump
his hand. He's heading
south. Gonna show them
replacement boys Ol Satch
still got a little left.
His meal money done run out
and it's a long stretch
to summer. If it was 1961,
closing in on midnight,
and you had just finished
kissing your first girlfriend
good night, you'd be riding
your new three speed
over the Williamsburg Bridge,
trying to make it home
before your father keeps
his promise and beats
your ass for being late.

If you were pumping
the pedals hard, if lines
of cars were speeding
past, their tires hissing
against the tar, their wide
open windows singing top
forty tunes, would you notice
the big black bear of a man
standing in the walkway, lifting
a shiny brass saxophone
to his lips? Would you skid
to a stop and sit at his feet,
lean back, close your eyes
and listen? Would you believe
it was Sonny Rollins blowing?
Yes, Sonny Fucking Rollins
woodshedding, communing
with his music. Would you say
to hell with your father
and stay until Sonny's breath
ran out, stay until the first
shell pinks of morning
lit every city building?

And will you dig
into your pocket, give
Ol Satch enough change
for coffee, a buttered
roll? Will you fold
a twenty dollar bill
into his hand, rummage
through your knapsack, pass
him paper and pen, and ask
for his autograph? Will you
get off at the next stop,
order thick steaks, baked
potatoes, and split the last
piece of cheesecake? Will you
listen to him talk baseball
until he couldn't eat
one more bite?

Tony Gloeggler is a native of NYC and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His books include the chapbooks ONE ON ONE which won the Pearl Poetry Prize in 1998, TONY GLOEGGLER'S GREATEST HITS (Pudding House Publications, 2009) and two full length collections ONE WISH LEFT (Pavement Saw Press, 2000) which went into a second edition and THE LAST LIE (NYQ Books 2010). "Bridges" was first published in The Ledge.

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