“Take Me out to the Ballgame,” and Other Poems by K.T. Slattery

This week Trasna is pleased to feature the work of K.T. Slattery. A native of Tennessee, who now lives in the West of Ireland, Slattery is a familiar with Transatlantic crossings. “My biggest regret / Moving across the wide ocean- / I missed that glorious day / Red Sox World Champions!!!!” We commend Slattery not just for her image-rich poetry, but for her good taste in rooting for the Red Sox. This fall, Hedgehog Press is publishing her debut poetry collection which will include “Take Me out to the Ballgame.

 

                                               Take Me out to the Ballgame

 

Scorecard balanced on knees

Cross pencil in hand

Me next to you

With my own scorecard

Looking over your shoulder

Determined to get it right

Without asking questions

Knowing all the words

To the Seventh Inning Stretch

Before I could speak

Ted Williams, a Saint

Ozzie Smith, my hero

It’s what we did best

You and I-

Baseball

 

I learned the stats

I catalogued the big things

The Curse of the Bambino

Those horrible Yankees

St. Louis most summers

The mecca- FENWAY

High School graduation present

Cooperstown for College

 

My biggest regret

Moving across the wide ocean-

I missed that glorious day

Red Sox World Champions!!!!

I maintain it a miracle

It happened before

We carried your ashes

From the church

And the organ played

Just for you

Take Me Out to The Ballgame…


Photo collage of the author, Kathryn Slattery, her father, James C. Thorell, her sister Rosie and former St. Louis Cardinal shortstop, Ozzie Smith

Joltin’ Joe Has Left and Gone Away

 

Raised on baseball.

Days spent learning the stats,

the history,

the heroes,

the Lou Gehrigs,

the trivia

the trick questions—

Moses Fleetwood Walker,

not Jackie Robinson.

 

Weekends in the off-season

spent queuing for autographs

from the legends

Ted Williams

Joe DiMaggio, who was there

with his brothers,

Vince and Dom.

 

A dog named Clemens,

baseball cards for Christmas.

Every pack containing the possibility

of a future treasure

and a stick of hard,

powdery, pink gum

that broke as it was folded.

 

 

1998- Two men battled

for the home run title,

leap frogging each other every day.

Would it be Chicago or St. Louis?

Sosa or McGwire?

 

Answer:

Performance enhancing drugs

sullied the crystalline waters of

straight forward stats,

propelled those rawhide spheres

over high outfield walls.

My dogs’ namesake also

a casualty of the scandal-

leaving a taste in my mouth

as rancid as Topps’ gum

after five seconds of chewing.

 

The author pictured with Red Sox great, Ted Williams (left)

Lettuce, this is spinach. We are under heavy attack. – Naval lieutenant, James C. Thorell

 

Words my father spoke,

things he never told his girls, his wife.

I read this surreal account in black and white,

added the red myself.

Only once in the 34 years I knew him, was

there mention of Vietnam.

 

My Great Uncle, Elbert Scott McCuskey

died on Father’s Day- slipped away peacefully

in church- before Alzheimer’s had the chance

to strengthen its grip. The Navy’s second Ace in a Day,

he shot down five planes in the Battle of Midway,

as his aircraft carrier slowly made its final journey to

the bottom of the North Pacific, leaving him and

his F4F Wildcat orphans in a sky full of enemies.

 

On this bleak Father’s Day, my father, full of nostalgia,

pulled out a flag, gently unfolded it,

put his finger through a bullet hole,

explaining his PCF-31 was under attack-

his friends died. What he failed to mention;

his actions saved the boat and the life

of Robert P. Heinz Jr, his M-16

jammed, he declined combat decoration.

 

It is hard for me to visualise the man I knew operating

an M-16, this man that could be too trusting, too optimistic—

but what I can relate to all too deeply, are the words

Mr. Heinz spoke when, recovered from his injuries,

he returned to Vietnam,

‘I want to go back to wherever Mr. Thorell is.’

Naval Lieutenant, James C. Thorell

 

Lt. J. Thorell on a swift boat while on duty in Vietnam

Author’s great uncle Elbert Scott McCuskey, WWII fighter pilot

 

 

K.T. Slattery was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up just across the state line in Mississippi. A graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, she now lives in the West of Ireland with her husband and an ever-increasing amount of rescue pets. Her poetry and prose have been published in Ropes Literary Journal, Nightingale and Sparrow, The Siren’s Call, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Planet in Peril Anthology, The Blue Nib, Impspired, The Wellington Street Review, Analogies and Allegories, and Streetcake. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Nightingale and Sparrow Chapbook Competition and has was longlisted for the 2018 and 2019 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year. Most recently she received a special mention in the 2020 Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition. Her debut poetry collection will be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in September 2021.

 

 

 

5 Responses to “Take Me out to the Ballgame,” and Other Poems by K.T. Slattery

  1. Connie Fincher says:

    I went to church with Jim Thorell and am so proud to have known him. I didn’t know about his heroics in the military but I am not surprised. His life was well spent raising his daughters with his wonderful wife. Their lives touched so many and the world is a better place because of their family. I am positive Jim is in heaven looking down with pride and much love. Rip Jim. We will meet again.

  2. Mari Maxwell says:

    Beautifully done Kathryn. Always rooted for the Red Sox especially when in the presence of Yankee fans. :) :) Remember my first ball games but your’s darling reveal such gorgeous remembrances. He would be might proud! CONGRATS!

  3. Jerry L Ketchum says:

    Your granddad Sam was brother to my father Gordon. I know your mom very well and have always respected her. Your grandmother Opal was a great one with horses and was always pleasant to be around. She had one of those great southern voices and southern charm. You are very fortunate to have had a father like James Thorell. Although I did not know him well, I knew that if your mom had fallen for him, that he was very special. The Ketchums, Maxwells and Hatchers had some great times and have brought great children into the world. Your poems are exceptionally good and “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” brought back tremendous memories. I wish you well on your opening day in September. Jerry L Ketchum

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