Poem | From the Bench

Upon reading the prologue to Philip Roth’s ‘The Great American Novel’
(Antoine Schibler/Unsplash)

One sees, from the beginning,
     where this book
is going: life’s a game
     and nothing but,
so grab your (corked) bat

and swing for the fences,
     round the bases
while waving at the round-mouthed
     faces, touch home
and know, no matter what,

your score won’t matter more
     than the post-game
party’s post-party lull, the boring
     stars not half
so engrossing as the last

tumbler of rum. The real
     flub when you
claim none of this is
     fair is thinking
fair is something to think:

that benchmark was never there—
     no league rules,
no umpire: only palace intrigue
     during the final
years of a pointless empire.

Published in the April 2023 issue: 

Stephen Kampa is the author of three collections of poetry: Cracks in the Invisible (2011), Bachelor Pad (2014), and Articulate as Rain (2018). His work has appeared in the Christian Century, the
Yale Review, the Cincinnati Review, Southwest Review, the Hopkins Review, Poetry Northwest, Subtropics, and Smartish Pace. He was also included in Best American Poetry 2018 and Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic (2020). During the spring of 2021, he was the writer in residence at the Amy Clampitt House. He teaches at Flagler College.

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