Robin Amy Bass

NOT TONIGHT: NUMBER 9… FOR BEN

Not tonight – You tell me
when I ask to read my poem
Not right now – The message clear
You answer on the phone

Not again – You smiles at me
I tell you I bought shoes
Then you turn the ball game on
I see it’s just a ruse

So we watch the Yankees game
You do the play by play
While I add the color talk
I see you shift away

I know your week was hard and long
You’re tired – so am I
I know you’re drifting back towards Nam
I hear it in your sigh

And while we watch the baseball game
You ponder world events
They’re bombing now in London Town
And I cannot prevent

The cloud that hovers over you
I don’t think that we should
Ignore the state of world affairs
I know you never could

Pretend that everything is fine
When everything is not
We’re tangled up in sports and news
I can’t undo this knot

And when at last the Yankees win
We wait for the Post Game
But they have got a special on
You say it’s not the same

To me it’s just a TV show
And I’m prepared to settle
Besides I find myself absorbed
They talk about Graig Nettles

Who I remember well enough
Way back in ‘84
I never knew his history
And now I learn much more

About a man who was a star
Wore pinstripes – had dark hair
He gave the Yankees all he had
They threw him out of there

Because he wrote a book named Balls
And started to get old
The Yankee brass can be like that
At times a little cold

So Graig picked up his glove and bat
Went back to San Diego
The Padres opened up their arms
Said,” Welcome home Amigo”

Of course it is not lost on me
How they said, “welcome home”
You turn and say I’ll be right back
I’m watching this alone

And not with you, who taught to me
The workings of this game
I knew how every Yankee played
By number and by name

The Beatles favored number nine
But it belonged to John
And Nettles chose it for himself
When he put pinstripes on

And that is what I ponder now
You see, that’s all I knew!
I never knew Graig was a Yank
He makes me think of you

For we met back in ‘82
When you played Rock and Roll
When life was mostly liner notes
When we saw Billy Joel

In concert, at the Meadowlands
When I was not your date
I sat across that stadium
And knew you were my fate

Back then, I waited patiently
Till snow eclipsed the light
‘Cause I was young and had some time
It still took you all night

The ironies keep popping up
Like Nettles, number nine
The aging process good to you
Improving like fine wine

I won’t go down that memory lane
This story’s not about
The things we did and how we met
It is – what you left out

That slice of your biography
Of how you’d been to war
When you disclosed that mystery
You opened up a door

And blue eyed windows of your soul
You slowly let me in
I pole vault wearing shoes of love
They’re laced – up with chagrin

Which sets us back from time to time?
Though not a mortal fall
It’s just a sign of walk don’t run
I’ll never learn to crawl

Yes, now and then I get ahead
I sometimes lose my place
And some things cannot be retrieved
It’s all there in your face

I know that you are watching me
While you have yet to move
So I will wait until you do
You do not have to prove

A single solitary thing
Nothing you have to do
And if you want to wait and see
I’ll wait and see with you

Not now – you sometimes say to me
Sometimes I wonder why
I only want to show respect
I don’t mean to imply

That I don’t take you at your word
Or just the way you are
I turned and let you slip away
At times it seems so far

Away to me and long ago
A life that was not mine
When Nettles was a Padre star
And wore the number nine

I know you had your reasons why
You kept it all inside
I wish I was the type of girl in
Whom you could confide

I guess that is my ego’s speech
The woman in me knows
That it’s a rather selfish thought
And I will not impose

The could have, should have, guilt or blame
The actions of our youth
I’m grateful for our second chance
The honesty and truth

The memories that we get to share
The sadder stories too
At times your silence speaks to me
And all I hear is true

I recognize our chronicle plays like
A checker board
At times I think I missed so much.
You know I’d like to hoard

The ticking of the minute hand
At times it’s just too quick
But if our time was cut in half
You still would be my pick

The seventies were not the same
At least for you and me
While I was walking to my class
You fought to keep me free

And when we watched Graig Nettles
Play way back in ‘84
I never knew he’d been a Yank
Or that there had been more

To him then what I saw take place
The same was true of you
And though I can’t forget it now
Back then I never knew

Not now – you sometimes say to me
Today, I don’t ask why
For I’m no longer circumspect
I see how hard you try

To navigate through jungle dreams
In country – so afar
And I won’t let you slip away
‘Cause I know who you are

And yes, it still seems long ago
A life that was not mine
When Nettles was a Padre star
And kept the number nine