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May 9, 2006

Reverse the Verse

Daniel W. Bates, originally from Chicago but now a resident of Maine, has written a 65-page poem on the 2004 Red Sox entitled “The Ballad of the Beantown BoSox.”

Red Sox spokesman Doug Bailey said at least two dozen books about the team came out after the 2004 season. Though many have waxed poetic, team officials were unaware of any poetry celebrating the event, Bailey said.

Apparently, Bailey isn’t an EE reader. If he were, he would have been aware of my McSweeney’s-rejected sestina back in December of 2004. Looking back, I had said this would be “a series of poems.” Back to the pen and paper for me, as there’s no way I could write poetry on a computer.

In addition to the book, Bates is selling an audio version of the poem narrated by Gary Crocker.

February 16, 2005


McSweeney’s didn’t select my Red Sox sestina for publication on their website. I think I was too earnest by half and didn’t tinge it with enough irony.

Hello [Name Deleted to Protect the Inept Sestina Writer] --

ThumbsdownThanks for sending this and letting us read it. I’d love to run a BoSox sestina, and yours is definitely skilled and uses the form well, but it just misses being right for the section. So we’ll have to pass. I’m sure this will find a home elsewhere. Do send more sestinas if the moment strikes you.

[Name Delected to Protect the Inept Sestina Writer Pointer-Outer]
Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas

“Moment”? It took me three days to write. Not a solid three days, but I just got sick of looking at the same six words and thinking of novels ways to use them.

Update: I wrote to NDtPtISWP-O to find out where I strayed.


Thanks for the feedback. If you have any specific criticisms or suggestions you could pass on, I’d appreciate it. I’m always looking to strengthen myself as a writer.

[Inept Yet Insistent Sestina Writer]

I then received the following response:

[Inept Yet Insistent Sestina Writer] --

No specific criticisms -- the higher-ups -- and this is just a guess -- may not have wanted to go with another baseball sestina. We had a St. Louis one before. This is just a guess. They never tell me. But do know it was one of my picks, that I presented. Send more if you have ’em!

Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas

I did a quick read of the Cardinals poem, and I don’t think the author actually followed the sestina format correctly. In the final stanza, she doesn’t use the proper word repetition pattern. Also, it isn’t recommended to use ending words that rhyme. Like all redbird fans, she got by with sheer enthusiasm and pom pom waving. She actually writes this: “Lord, does Cardinal Nation love baseball.”

They might have won the McSweeney’s Sestina battle, but we know who won the war. Still, I don’t like knowing that there is one baseball sestina on the site, and that the poem is dedicated to that St. Louis team. I plan to write another.

December 30, 2004


Red Sox vanity plates abound according to Michael Demasi in the Boston Globe. This calls for... license plate haiku.


December 21, 2004

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Thanks for the memories, Dave Roberts and Orlando Cabrera. You both came and left on the same day, and were indispensable parts of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox.



I wrote this limerick for Roberts and posted it previously on

A speedy outfielder named Roberts,
Disaster in ALCS averts.
He steals a pivotal base,
Flouting a Yankee ace;
Sabermetricians become smallball converts.

December 15, 2004

Red Sox Season Sestina

First in a series of poems in various forms celebrating the Red Sox. The sestina can be well done in the hands of real poets like Elizabeth Bishop or John Ashbery (move down the page for “Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape”), but for me it was just a fun way to celebrate this past season.

I. Hot Stove
Not every year begins in April, sometimes it starts with the holiday season,
With intensive talks over Thanksgiving dinner in Arizona. Is he game
To pitch in Fenway Park, homey, but considered a hitter’s park? The Red Sox
General Manager had data compiled, so that Schilling should not despair;
The Green Monster plucked home runs from the air, and pitching there would be a win-win.
Drafted under close scrutiny, Schilling signed the contract in good faith.

II. Beginning
The cruelest month saw torrid play, the only warmth for the fans bundled in stands, blind faith
In the Olde Towne Team guiding them through the crisp spring season.
15-6 in April, including a sweep of Evil Empire on their home territory. To win
Each time they took the field seemed a given. Other teams were the game,
Prey to the team’s talent. Despite the injuries and insinuations, there was no reason to despair;
A new nation declared its sovereignty, and the flag that was flown said “Red Sox.”

III. Swoon
From May to June, they seemed determined to prove that the Red Sox
Were the same old deal. Mired in mediocrity, reeling from unearned runs, faith
Evaporated like dew from the infield grass. A deluge of despair,
The déjà vu of too many summers preceding, sweeping over the season
As a torrent of spite spewed from daily papers. Players, managers, front office – all were game
For the ravenous press. All were starving for a resurgence, hungry for a win

IV. Trade
Streak to steady the club. What would it take to win?
Retooling. Would it mean trading a longtime Sox?
Probably. How to acquire to right pieces to play the game?
With panache. Will the fans lose faith?
Time will tell. Who will save the season?
Not one man, but many. When ends the despair?

After the first match-up the stadium, we weren’t completely down. Despair
Only lightly limned the stretches of our confidence. Most certainly we would win
The next one. There was no reason to think that our spell in the post-season
Would be brief. But after a squeaker and a laugher, the 0-3 Red Sox
Did not dwell, but delved deep. Every bench member found a way, an act of faith
Propelling them, compelling them to triumph four times straight. After the seventh game

VI. World Series
Celebrating a pennant was just the beginning. Needing to capture a game
Or three more to cleanse the air, wash away the despair.
No more supposed ghosts, curses, lapses, just pure faith
Pouring forth from reserves of past pain and hapless hopes to win
A title, the title that had eluded them through four score and six years, the Red Sox
Conquered hands, minds, and hearts for a fitting close to a cathartic season.

VII. Waiting for Pitchers and Catchers
After long decades, faith is rewarded. Is it just a game?
For us, probably not. A season is fulfilled and we only despair
The long wait for the next win. “Now starting for the Red Sox….”

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