the old pinch hitter

comes out of the dugout in the last of the 9th
2 out.   the winning run on 2nd
he’s 7 for 20 on the season:   .350
he walks slowly to the plate, seems relaxed but
deliberate.   faces a fireballing young pitcher,
18 years younger than he.
takes ball one.   ball two.   fouls off
the next two.   then runs it to 3 and 2.
the fireballers gets his sign, checks 2nd
blazes it in as the runner goes
the perfect pitch
the perfect strike
knee-high and inside:
nobody can handle it:
a solid liner between 1st and 2nd
the runner from 2nd scores.
the old pinch hitter touches first
then turns and runs slowly toward
the dugout.
another night’s work.
that shower is going to feel

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: