Player to Be Named Later by Michael Brockley

For a change, you drive away from the setting sun. Steering your old Chevrolet toward the minor league towns of Ohio and the Civil War graves beyond. As a child, you collected baseball cards. Each week buying a pack of five cards for a quarter at Schlichte’s Grocery. Bo Belinsky. Pumpsie Green. And Harry Chiti, the first player to be traded for himself. Even then you knew better than to swap Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and a benchwarmer nicknamed “Suitcase.” Last week, the Reds shipped their ace to the Royals for prospects. Players who might start tonight in Chillicothe or Dayton. Someone once advised you to travel without maps or destination. You listen to Old Crow Medicine Show. Lucinda Williams. A semi passes you on the highway. Economy cars from Korea stacked on the trailer. A Confederate flag burnished onto the passenger door. You’ve never walked the graves at Gettysburg or Manassas. Never had to pay your dues to the killing fields. At the next exit, green signs point north toward a Barnstormers home game in Lancaster and south toward Appomattox. You turn south. Eat at a Chinese buffet in Bluefield. Sample spring rolls. Crab Rangoon. Fill your plate with General Tso’s chicken and brown rice. Your waitress leaves a fortune cookie with your bill. You read you will be traded and who you will be traded for.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Clementine Unbound, Jokes Review, and Third Wednesday. His work is forthcoming in an anthology of Indianapolis poems.

Photo by Charles Deluvio

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