Posted by: cousinbrandon | April 23, 2010

Versus: The Poetry of Cousin Brandon

[A quick note: yesterday my blog surpassed 20,000 views since I started it back in August of 2009 (eight months ago). I just wanted to extend my thanks to those of you who have followed me here on a regular basis, as well as those of you first-time and new readers. Your support is greatly appreciated.]

With Spring in mid-swing and The Masters now a couple weeks removed, I thought a golf-centric poem might be appropriate. What’s more, I was on the golf course Wednesday morning; granted, it was for a fundraiser and I wasn’t actually playing, but I was there nonetheless. Today’s poem actually appeared in the 2004 issue of Portrait, a now defunct journal out of New York. It was a nice little production, really, as each issues focused on one visual artist and one writer. Offhand, I can’t recall the artist I was coupled with. Guess I’ll have to come back at some point and update this post, as I’d like to give the artist (and the journal’s editor) his due. “Driving Range” also appeared in my senior thesis in December of 2003. That, of course, was never published. With that, I’d have to think I first started working on this poem around 2001 or 2002. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading, as always.

Driving Range

It wasn’t the rhythm of a swing
I learned that summer, but how to hump
his bag of clubs from parking lot to range,
to keep its base from scraping concrete
so as not to see his eyes like golf balls bulge
from their respective sockets. At ten
I couldn’t fault his will to want me
to be better at the game he claimed
to master as a boy, so I let him make
his passion mine, believing that devotion
was a talent I could fake. He taught me
how to reset the tee ball by ball,
then clear away — Move your ass, boy
the art of place and scamper. Even
if I could have mustered up the nerve
to ask him for a turn, my trembling hands
would never let me take a hack. Still,
I imagine what it would have been like,
in those seconds when I torqued it at the top,
to rip one over the fence to some place
I’d never seen him go. All summer
I ached to take a swing, unload
the kind of stroke I’d watched him make
but couldn’t reproduce, that simple repetition
of his own weight shifted from one foot
to the other, the whip of wind and metal ping
that said without seeing the ball’s flight
he’d put one out there. How effortless
it was, his usual lumbering body that struggled
even to raise itself off the couch
suddenly rotating like a pendulum
that couldn’t forget its arc. I wanted so badly
to snatch the club away — make him look up
from whatever it was that kept him mute —
and study my backswing, hoping he might
see promise, a subtle glint to build on.



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