Literary Yard

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‘The Little League Game’ and other poems by Linnea Cooley

By: Linnea Cooley

The Little League Game 

At the little league game, when a man
(a parent from the opposing team) 
stands with his fingers curled through the chain link fence
and sees me at bat
(head too big for my body, arms too skinny to hit hard) 
he growls “That kid will never hit the god damn ball!” 

and my mother, sitting on the bleachers, 
laughs so hard her small breasts jump up and down 
laughs so hard her body shakes in its cheap summer dress
laughs so hard her peals of laughter dance out onto the field 
and the pitcher, (12 years old), turns to watch her 
the baseball slipping out of his too big glove!  

Later, after the game, she asks the man to come with us to dinner
And we sit; me, my mother, the man, and his nervous kid
in a booth at Johnny’s Pizzeria 
Where we eat a whole cheese pizza, and many, many, cups of coca-cola
And we learn that the man is a plumber, and that his wife died three years ago, and that his kid’s name is Sammy, and that his math grades aren’t very good, but he and his father sit together at the kitchen table every night trying to deconstruct fractions and puzzle through the quadratic equation while the moths fly frantically at the kitchen light.


A Couple Bickers in Public 

They’ve fought through this before, it seems 
The words seem well trodden 
The woman wears an orange hat 
her face illuminated by the sun 
washed out, like a Juergen Teller photograph 
The man’s head is sweating 
Not bald, with wiry hairs, like a pig 
I sniff, heads turn synchronously
the woman purses her lips 
“You always have to make a scene” 


Return to Palm Springs

More tennis courts
fewer pools
Equal amounts of
empty boutiques

A Chihuly sculpture
in the art museum.
on loan, for
thirteen months

by the highway
a second line of wind turbines.
oblique fingers stretch
toward desert sky

our house;
a new mailbox.
blue this time,
the mailman notes

frost rot
has killed
the orange tree in the backyard


I come out 

the ants dance in circles
on the tile floor
I watch them, head bowed 
sweat condensing on my upper lip
“How long was it…” 
“When did you know..” 
Acrylic nails click, clack 
on the formica table 
My mother nudges crumbs 
onto the floor 
the ants spin in circles, 
delighted by their bounty 
“thirteen months and fourteen days” 


Joshua Tree 

the Joshua trees 
have grown in this valley for seven-hundred years.

Joshua, the Mormons named them
for their prophet. 
He wandered through the desert
he reached up, toward the heavens

the Joshua trees, izote de desierto
the conquerors sharpened their
daggers, rested their backs
against the spiny trunks 

tourists and kangaroo rats
cradle silence under  
night skies spilled with milky way. 
orion chases the pleiades
the Joshua trees reach up, toward the heavens

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