Kevin Bertolero

Kevin Bertolero
is the founding editor of Ghost City Press and is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Love Poems (Bottlecap Press, 2020). His nonfiction book on gay cinema is forthcoming in 2021 with Another New Calligraphy. He is currently studying in the MFA program at New England College. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinBertolero.


like how the Yankees almost
             traded DiMaggio in ’47 or
                    how you watched the Big Red
            Machine on TV while you were
            still a student at the
                             old middle school

           [none of this means much to me]

It’s 2003 and you drive us
        to Auburn to watch
        AAA baseball—we have cheap
                                                 b o x

         us three eat hot dogs with ketchup
                                  share a single coke
                    saving our last dollar bills
                    for a post-game two-berry-twist

           but then it grows dark
          and the Chiefs
                         are down four in the ninth
                                so we call it early to beat
                         traffic home

we’re pulled over in your big red
                  Ford       and the cop eyes
                  brother and I
                  strapped together in the
                                    passenger seat

          just imagine what could happen to your boys

                        I have quit little league now
                        after being hit so many times
            it stopped feeling

I can’t trust my peers
            and you, too, kept saying

things will get better

                 I wasn’t meant
                  for more than
                                 pulling up grass in the outfield
                        watching other boys take the mound

            Dominick would join me
            but then his family moved
                                         to Texas, the
                     American League West

                                maybe he’s watching the
                      Rangers right now

                                                   [or maybe not]

                brother still plays, so you
                 take us to
              and we spend the afternoon
 with signed programs / short docs
                                    / headlines from the
                                        Hudson Gazette

where they praise Abner Doubleday for inventing the game /
                                                 for starting a civil war

         —but what for Whitman with his sick boys
                                                in the Capital or
                      Colonel Chamberlain preaching
to his three hundred men?

                                           What we’re fighting for
                                           in the end is
                                           we’re fighting for each other

he was searching for a sign of life
on Little Round Top, always
          fighting towards that end
          only now we’re at the cornfield
at the far end of the country village &
                        I see boys
             play ball like they did
 in early days / bare hands / flat bats /
            a good underhand toss

      [the sun in my eyes so I squint]

this is what they call a game
                                      for men—
                                     careless in their
                               stained white pants

                        and still you try to tell me what I
                        need to know

you say homer
I think Simpson

                                    sorry if I ever let you down

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