“The Last Days of Baseball” by Jennifer Rane Hancock

Jennifer Rane Hancock


in memoriam, Brent Doeden July 10, 2017

Captain Earthman is dead. At the end of the
Anthropocene, as we await Thor: Ragnarok,
as an iceberg the size of Delaware
falls from Antarctica like a doomed hero,
our angels have also fallen. Bowie
would have asked whose shirt he wore.
These last days, and aren’t all days these days
last days, we who need hope texted him:
246 R12 beers pls.
And he came,
from as far away as first base, as far away
as Earth, man, where baseball used to be
green. He came with our beers and our hope
that the fires in Arizona won’t touch
Talking Stick. And beer and hope
are all we have now, these last days of baseball,
as Arizona burns and California, Utah,
and Colorado burn and keep burning
through irrigated and stadium-lit fields.
Brent Doeden
told the Denver Post he’d like
to die abducted by aliens. He knew the thin,
clear air above Red Rocks, could jog
the steps with twenty beers when he was young.
So he’d know. He’d say take me home, guys.
I’ve spend enough time here and they haven’t
learned anything. Peace, love, all that hippie
shit on my harness pins, the rainbow flags
in my Rockies cap.
And we who need
hope more than beer will text numbers his
daughter will read in Hawaii: 119 R3. 211 R9.
Coordinates in baseball as important
as the 6-4-3 double play. They mean us.
We. Here.
  In the safety of Coors Field,
while the world burns and Bowie’s voice
on vinyl floats through the open windows
in Capitol Hill where the Beats used to beatnik.
Captain Earthman has boarded the mothership
and we who need anything and everything
but will settle
for beer are waiting
for him through the last days of baseball,
which are the last days of cool spring
training games and rain-drenched post-seasons,
the last days of our time here on earth.

Poets Respond
July 13, 2017

[download audio]


Jennifer Rane Hancock: “I’m writing a series of poems about how baseball will be affected by climate change. Captain Earthman, Brent Doeden, was a vendor at Coors Field (as well as Mile High, Red Rocks, and spring training games in Arizona). His death hit me hard, as he always reminded me of my dad who died four years ago. They were both fascinated with space, and consummate performers. Dad would have made a great beer vendor. Captain Earthman leaves us to watch the game change as the earth changes, and we are at a loss, a lack of political will, to do anything about it. I don’t know if he was an environmentalist. Likely not. He was an entertainer first and foremost. But in the week of his death, both Mayor Hancock of Denver (no relation) and Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper both pledged to uphold the Paris Accords in defiance of President Trump’s position. All of those things coming together, as we deal with one of the worst fire season in the west in years, led to this poem.” (website)

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