Apr/May 1999 Poetry

Stone Throwing Contest

by Duncan Ford Young


Stone Throwing Contest

We perched on the hummock-top prow of a desert slashed
with streambeds the Anasazi watched evaporate.
It was white and indeterminate and stood out
in bas-relief from the scrubby brush and stone:
a tarp, or an old shirt,
a target.
Thirty feet across the arroyo and we threw
stones at it. My favorites were the large rocks,
squarish, bisected by dirt and calcite,
held next to the ear like a waiterís tray and heaved
like a shot put. Point with the left hand,
test out the mental accuracy gambits
(Steve Carlton used to picture a red tube, release point to
target, before the southpaw-fling down its length.)
and send it lofting across the pitch gulch of slate and dirt.
Landing was a scatter deflect
into the bushes, a sure-thing-thump like the ones we crave
in thought, or the foil crackle rip of bulls-eye,
lurching the target as if with ghostly fingers
of feather and force. The rules rose up in mirage like
camouflage desert pilgrims: head to head, donít cross the line,
if itís close itís a drawóand this competition, this creation,
is the same as itís always been,
when yellow wiffle ball bats were Louisville Sluggers,
the bases loaded with ghost runners
and Iím the all time pitcher.


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