who nicknamed himself Dribble

who used to be a high-school basketball star

wanted paid in baseball cards, not money


but my friend Shawn loved baseball

at least as much as getting stoned


especially Roberto Clemente

dead now 18 years

who fell from the sky

between Pittsburgh

and Nicaragua

delivering food

to earthquake victims.


What an angel that guy was in right field

locomotive on the bases

a steel mill at the plate

twice pounding 100 RBIs

and 3000 hits overall.


Roberto Clemente

who led the Pirates to two championships

Roberto Clemente

who blasted a solo home run

in game seven

of the 1971 World Series


and all of Pittsburgh exploded with love—

grown men with black lungs

clutched their 200-pound wives

while the transistor radios sang.


“Not my Roberto Clemente” Shawn said


but Dribble

standing seven feet tall

with hands to palm a human head

was insistent.


The life Shawn led was not the life

Shawn wanted to lead.

Never had it been more clear than standing

in this shithole apartment in Youngwood

clutching what remained of his childhood

in one hand and a cold Budweiser in the other.


Roberto Clemente wouldn’t have sold

his Roberto Clemente

Topps bubblegum baseball card

to an ex-jock drug dealer

unless it saved some kids

in South America


and that kind of love and dedication

was the kind of thing that made Shawn want to get stoned.


Bless you Roberto Clemente.

We all can’t be you.


And Jesus, it was Friday and the world was still the world

and the Pirates hadn’t won the Series

in almost a decade.


When Dribble asked

one more time

for the 1971 Clemente card

Shawn dropped it on the table

baseball safe in his memory

another major loss

another minor victory

his pocket filled with a bag

of Alaskan Thunderfuck

rumored to be some very primo weed.



Photo By: Wally Gobetz