Poets Read

Poets Read: Cathleen Calbert

We are pleased to offer our Poets Read series in honor of National Poetry Month 2019 and will run it throughout the month of April. 

Every day in April, our website and our YouTube channel will feature the voice of a poet whose work has appeared in our pages over the past year. On Sundays, we will offer two poets for your enjoyment. 

Today’s poem is I Don’t Want to Read a Poem About Baseball by Cathleen Calbert and it appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Gyroscope Review.

I Don’t Want to Read a Poem About Baseball
by Cathleen Calbert


I’m tired of the American spirit, 
the boys of summer and their fans,
team effort and hey batta batta.

Maybe it’s just another thing
I don’t understand. Like God or jogging.
Adopting babies in Romania.

I was that black-clad chick
behind the bleachers, smoking.
I don’t know anything

about sports, period
(My brother shakes his head:
“There are many ways to be stupid.”)

True, for me there was no beauty,
no satisfying crack of ball and bat,
just another chance to be a girl

without hand-eye coordination. 
A ball coming in my direction 
meant I should do three things:  

duck, cross 
my arms like an X
over my head, and wait for death.

I’ve got enough
adult humiliations 
to write about already, don’t you? 

Shouldn’t your poems be 
about girls like me anyway?  
How you loved kissing us in the rain?  

How nothing was better 
than the mist of menthol
between our shining lips?

Don’t get me wrong.
I don’t care if you play the game.
Have fun. Slide into home.

But I don’t want to 
bask in the amber glow
of another boyhood in Brooklyn,

hear about your World Series 
heartbreak or existential loneliness 
first encountered in the outfield.

Don’t try to prove
you’re not as fey as a poet
by applauding jocks, please.

I don’t want to read those poems
just like you don’t want to 
read about my body.

Since you’re the editors,
you win, you rock, you rule.
The rest of us are pussies.

About the Poet: Cathleen Calbert’s writing has appeared in many publications, including Ms. Magazine, The New Republic, The New York Times, and The Paris Review. She is the author of four books of poetry: Lessons in Space, Bad Judgment, Sleeping with a Famous Poet, and The Afflicted Girls. Her awards include The Nation Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Sheila Motton Book Prize, and the Vernice Quebodeaux Poetry Prize for Women.