for Jason As men age, we wear gray in our beards like an errant fastball to the ribs that escaped the pitcher’s hand because we’ve learned not to rub it and acknowledge the pain no matter how hard the hurt we absorb. I’ve had my share of traumatic, post-game at-bats and the satisfaction in getting on base from a hit vs. four wayward pitches is sweeter because earning your way is always greater than being rewarded for another man’s failure. We play games of some sort all our lives because guys like us have DNA composed of adrenaline and competitiveness, and I’ll bet even though my knees may disagree, I can still run down any fly ball and get down for any grounder I failed to field in my past. Jason… your name means healer, and I still recall the way you used to walk to the mound from behind the plate to tell your pitcher to simply relax as if your reassuring words cured the flatness of his curve, the unsteadiness of his nerves. There will come a day when we, too, play our last game in this life— rounding third, deciding if we should take our chances and stand up, or if we need to slide and pray our way into home.
Daniel Romo is the author of Bum Knees and Grieving Sunsets (FlowerSong Press 2023), Moonlighting as an Avalanche (Tebot Bach 2021), Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019), and other books. His writing and photography can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Yemassee, Hotel Amerika, and elsewhere. He received an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, and he lives, teaches, and rides his bikes in Long Beach, CA. More at danieljromo.com.