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You may have seen this, especially if you are/were a Braves fan.

I think it's really good.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux

While my comments below--about how I stumbled on to the essay--won't stand the test of time, I assure you the poetry cited will.

Look, I know I have too much time on my hands.  I spent too much time as a kid reading and now I spend too much time surfing the 'net. There were good reasons for the former I may go into at a later date. There are no good reasons for my internet addiction but sometimes, like yesterday, little literary miracles happen.

I was supposed to spend the lunch break grading a stack of 11th graders' essays on Seamus Heaney's "Digging"[1] and Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"[2] and Robert Hass's "A Story About the Body."[3]  Great poems, each of them, but I shrank from the task. Great as those poems are, they don't necessarily lead to great 11th grade essays.

In my moment of hesitation, apropos of nothing at all, the idea to craft my own poem skittered across my mind. Equally apropos of nothing, I thought a worthy project would be my own version of Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." (Stevens' poem is posted below. Everyone should read it at least twice in their lifetime. Also, understanding this thread depends upon reading it. It’s not long. You’ll be okay).

My version would be called "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Baseball."  

It would be crafted with fear and trembling, lest I suffer a sickness unto death at the hands of Amohalko, THE God of Baseball Gods.[4]  Despite my congenital (and congenial and, perhaps, ugh, congealing) humility, I would admit my poem's brilliance, and fake-modestly bow my head as tens of people (maybe even 100!), showered acclaim upon me like a winning team's clubhouse champagne.[5] I'd win prizes not only from the Poetry Foundation but also from Major League Baseball, which would give me [6] its inaugural "BUDAHH" Award.[7] A new wing would be built in Cooperstown in the shape of the first ever alphabet's [8] letter for W (for Writer): 𐤅‎  .                

I would be just inside the front door.

To that end, I embarked upon an internet search to make sure I wasn't plagiarizing anyone else's work and stumbled across "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux". "Moved" by the essay doesn't really capture the depth of my response. The Italian "Ero profondamente commosso"  does a better job.

When I find things like this I have to share them.  Thank you.


[1]Heaney, "Digging"

[2] Oliver, "Wild Geese"

[3] Hass, "A Story About The Body"

[4] Amohalko's story may be shared at a later time, Amohalko-willing. Suffice it to say, they (Amohalko has no gender) are from the land of Ning, hence the origin of "inning," as in “Amohalko is in Ning."

[5] Clubhouse Champagne

[6] Since the award is all my idea.

[7]The Bouton-Updike-DeLillo-Angell-Halberstam Hack Award. It would be voted on only by bullpen catchers, for what I hope are obvious reasons.  Due to their perfidy re: HOF voting, sportswriters are banished to the nosebleed bleacher seats.

[8] The Phoenician alphabet. Some would dispute this, arguing that the first alphabet consisted of hieroglyphics but I hold with the Phoenician school's focus on symbols representing sounds rather than images.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird



Among twenty snowy mountains,

The only moving thing

Was the eye of the blackbird.


I was of three minds,

Like a tree

In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.

It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a blackbird

Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of inflections

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

The blackbird whistling

Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window

With barbaric glass.

The shadow of the blackbird

Crossed it, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,

Why do you imagine golden birds?

Do you not see how the blackbird

Walks around the feet

Of the women about you?


I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,

It marked the edge

Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds

Flying in a green light,

Even the bawds of euphony

Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut

In a glass coach.

Once, a fear pierced him,

In that he mistook

The shadow of his equipage

For blackbirds.


The river is moving.

The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The blackbird sat

In the cedar-limbs.

I was ionized but I'm okay now... Buckaroo Banzai

Last edited by smokeminside
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Damn you, Smoke.  Glad I had nothing else important going on this afternoon.

I wasn't content to leave off with the poetry and just the one story about  Jason (and Gregory.)  I had to go invest $3 and order myself a copy of that 1995 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion Number 129.

I also dug up another more recent piece by Collins.

It's nowhere near the level of the Maddux Thirteen, but there is more insight and backstory on the nature of his relationship with Jason interspersed among the Falcon babble.

I guess it's in the end a bit like grading those 11th graders' essays - a little bittersweet, yet leaving a hint of enlightenment and understanding...

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