The Game

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When the rain finally agreed to stop,
the tigers could play the angels,

girls in numbered jerseys twirling
in the baseball field as if the game itself

was a game. “Get the ball!” said the fathers.
“Throw it to first!” shaking their heads

with the bafflement of Men Being Ignored.
Now imagine: into the middle of all this

foolishness bounds a young retriever,
fur spiked from shaking water;

in his slavering mouth, a baton.
What to do? We were suddenly actors

between scenes. All of us, that is, except:
He Whose Job It Is To Hold the Dog.

When the master appeared, huffing,
we laughed. How could we not? His hair

was a wild drift; a looped leash dangled
helplessly from his right hand.

We recognized him immediately—
he was us in our unguarded moments,

breathless & near defeat, but still Doing
the Right Thing. Hanging in there.

We watched the Exchange of Dog
the ritual roughing of ears, the return

of the baton—& tracked their progress
across the field. How fun! A story

to share over cocktails. The game
resumed. A tiger grounded the ball past

second base, & the dog, Too Much Dog,
Really, broke free to field the ball.

Hadn’t the man learned anything?
For longer than we wanted, we watched

them dance without success. The feints,
the pleading. The bargains & threats.

The determination to prevail. We were
watching a battle of wills as ancient

as any in the long history of love.
It was epic, it was timely, & we

wanted to see what could be done
once everything else has failed.

The Game by Steve Mueske


Photo used under CC.

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About Author

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Steve Mueske is an electronic musician and the author of a chapbook and two books of poetry. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Typo Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, Water~Stone Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere.

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