One afternoon, while heading home
Upon a hot commuter train,
I fell asleep, and dreamed this poem,
As summer’s light began to wane.
I saw a scene of baseball’s past
When stadiums were built to last
With brick-and-ivy outfield walls
Bombarded hard by sluggers’ balls.
And every man, and every maid
Would swelter in the noon-day heat.
And by the time the game’d been played
They’d smell as bad as postmen’s feet.
My reverie became a wish
That bordered close on heresy:
That Fenway Park, the Red Sox home,
Become an air-conditioned dome.
And as I slept the train rolled on
Past Back Bay then to Newtonville,
My narcoleptic state absorbed
What otherwise was time to kill.
Through Wellesley Farms to Wellesley Hills
And Wellesley Square I slept.
Through Natick and West Natick too
The engineer appointments kept.
When hot and groggy I awoke
To the conductor’s awful yawp,
The scenery out my window showed
We’d rolled four stations past my stop.
I stumbled off the train to see
A wave of fans in front of me
With baseball caps upon their heads
That bore the letter “B” in red;
The Night of the Red Sox Living Dead.
Their heads had swelled (or was it mine,
That lay asleep for all that time?)
“Ortiz” and “Schilling” on their backs.
With wild surmise and looks quite wacked.
They staggered towards me, two by two,
I froze, then turned and tried to flee.
Well, what exactly would you do,
If I were you, and you were me?
They seemed intent on mayhem mad
Or maybe something even worse.
As I imagined just how bad,
A mother hit me with her purse.
“Get out the way, we’re comin’ through!”
She screamed from deep within her lungs.
She pushed a snot-nosed kid or two–
Why is youth wasted on the young?
I stumbled back on to the train
Not knowing how or even why.
Crushed flat beneath a press of flesh
I thought that I was going to die.
We rattled back towards the town
From whence I’d come when wide awake,
Squeezed tight so I could make no sound
Squashed flatter than sardine pancakes.
West Natick first, plain Natick next
By Wellesley Square I’d caught my breath.
“Excuse me,” I could finally say,
“I’m getting off, my stop is next.”
“This guy here thinks he’s getting off!”
A ghoulish fan saw fit to scoff,
And then a chilly chorus said,
“He didn’t say the magic word!”
I racked my brain both high and low,
Then left, then right and upside down.
What sound would cause the zombie hoard
To let me off at Wellesley town?
I couldn’t think, I had to beg,
“Please tell me,” I implored a girl.
“I’m really not too bad an egg,
If not the nicest in the world.”
She looked at me with deep brown eyes
That bore through me like fine drill bits
A loyal fan, quite undersized,
She’d brought along a catcher’s mitt.
Child of the Damned, in schoolgirl clothes,
A tartan kilt of blue and green;
She wore a pair of Mary Janes
Her brown locks tossed by breeze unseen.
“If you want to get off this train
In Wellesley Square, one stop away
You’ll have to say the magic word!
Or ride with us to Yawkey Way!”
I didn’t want to go that far, I’d rather
–if the truth be known–
Be sitting in my easy chair
And watch the stupid game at home.
She read my mind by ESP
The zombies then advanced on me.
“Just say the simple syllable
And we’ll ride on while you go free!”
My mouth was dry, no words would come
I guess you’d say I’d been struck dumb.
In fear I struck a fetal pose,
And on they came, as zombies come.
The little girl sank to the floor
Like Jolson, skidding on her knees,
And screamed “You silly nimmynot–
The word you need to say is ‘Please’!”
Available in Kindle format as part of the collection “Red Sox and Yankees: Why Can’t We Be Enemies?”