Moira Linehan

In the Moment Before

Remember: my Boys of Summer, wild card
in 2004, down three games to none
against the Yankees—the Yankees, what hope was there?—
my Boys came back and beat them, then beat the Cardinals
to win it all, first time since 1918.
But my father, who’d died waiting for them

to do just that, had taught me year in, year out,   
They’ll break your heart every time. And so these days
if they’re playing when I go to bed at nine—
fourth, fifth, sixth inning depending on how fast
each pitcher’s working, how many three-up/
three-down innings, or how many bats are hot,
which way the wind’s blowing—I go to bed,

Keats knows, in a cloud of unknowing. Ahead
one, two, three runs, I know this game’s poetry,
its rhythmic ups and downs and outs so I know
nothing. For I know this game can turn
on just one wrong pitch, dropped ball, bad call.
Yet if I want to be awake all day tomorrow,

I need to wait till then to know the end.
Keats, okay with that, as he wrote in 1818
it’s about being in the moment without
any . . . reaching after
. So tonight, a line drive hit
toward the Pesky Pole, the wall, in the moment before
it’s fair or foul, caught or sailing out, Keats wants
I just hang with it, in air, the beauty of it.

Black Taxi Tour, Belfast, 2016
an ABeCeDarius Sonnet
after Barbara Hamby

Aitch or haitch: during the Troubles, how you said the eighth letter could be
critical. As in, life or death. Yet still in Belfast today the need,
each to know, Are you British or Irish? Still the grim gulf
ground of Falls Road and its graffitied wall. The South
in the North: on one lawn the Virgin Mary while the Union J
kites above the next block. Twenty years a peace accord and still
murals remember hunger strikes, plaques name men gunned down
openly here, here, here. Falls Road gates still locked each night to stop,
quips our Black Taxi Tour guide, us killing each other. This tour
showing peace hangs by a thread. As do many poems. Much art.
You have two ancient histories, each marching down a chute toward a vee.
What’s the point of all this? Who’s ever going to solve for X?
Yeats stitched and unstitched lines. And stitched again. Never absolute Z.

Moira Linehan is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by Southern Illinois University Press: If No Moon (2007) and Incarnate Grace (2015). Recent work of hers has appeared, or is forthcoming, in AGNI, Boston College Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Crab Orchard Review, Notre Dame Review, Salamander and Tampa Review. She lives in the Boston area and can be contacted through her website



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