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April 04, 2014


Brilliant poem, Mitch. One of your "major works" of recent vintage. Makes me want to try my hand at a snowball or tennis ball variant.

A bowling ball is life in the slow lane
on Friday nights with the boys and the beer
while the women play mah-jong three bam
six crack somebody stepped in shit tonight.

A tennis ball is fast coming straight at you
but you meet every approach shot with a passing shot
into the corner, and you, lanky and tall
in white shorts, will now swim the Hellespont.

A golf ball is deliberate. It is like Ike
making up his mind whether to launch the invasion
on June 5th or wait a day. But it is also the bald
head of a man who smoked four packs of Camels a day.

Shapiro liked to quote a dean who told him that
nothing was as well-rounded as a billiard ball
and nothing more easily pushed around. I thought it
a good example of Columbia wit rather than a parable.

A baseball is the poem that ended the game, the World
Series, the season, with a swing-and-a-miss strikeout,
and the pitcher tosses his glove in the air,
and the catcher runs out to hug him.

Notice how the hockey puck eludes classification,
even as the basketball, the football, and the soccer ball
challenge our ingenuity, our penchant for comparisons,
and our unstable presence on this moving planet.

I'm so flattered you felt inspired to do this! It took a lot of balls. Ha! But unless there were some complications I'm not aware of (like Coleman might have said it more than once)it was to Sisskind and none other that Columbia Director of Admissions and future Dean Henry Coleman said, "There's nothing more well-rounded than a billiard ball and there's nothing easier to push around." He said that in Winnetka, Illinois, in 1962 and it was my first contact with what we may indeed call Columbia wit. It was certainly memorable but less so than the Princeton Admissions Director who held up a little map and said, "Let me show you what happens on a typical football weekend....." Well, I made my choice. Was it the right one? In those days people used to say, "The jury is still out." I hope it's still out!

Thank you for taking a swing at writing a poem about a golf ball. I like your cheerful poem and happily await the spring opening of the miniature golf course next to the Bunny Hutch at Lincoln and Devon.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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