When you bounded into Sutter’s arms
It seems too obvious an ascension
Of a man who brushed his burst fingers against the endurable
Only when he was ashamed.
In the beery afterglow,
Your words as simple as you longed to be,
Your words, like your swing — that motel Gideon’s Bible of a swing —
You can do this, we know, this hitting, catching, running.
But it’s the after — the plenteous and undetailed after,
The quiet after —
To which you’ll always belong.
You marooned your truck on a roadside tree stump in Sugar Creek
And wandered down to the Missouri River,
Not long after feeling the peppery gust of cocaine
Spraying your sinuses, the back of your throat
For the first time in 22 years.
They found you with your shirt around your neck.
Maybe you were trying to hang yourself.
More likely, you wanted to slough off what you could
When you found that the trail you’d cut
Between what you were and what you are
Had doubled back on you.
They never said whether you were found face up or face down.
We don’t know whether you saw the shadowed switchgrass,
As your heart fluttered beyond anyone’s grasp,
Or the skies that we mistake for heaven.
Whatever you saw, you didn’t see it well,
With those eyeglasses as thick as wagon wheels.
Each lens was less a lens
Than a deepwater amphitheater
That harbored a sunken eye,
That conspired to let no one quite know
What it all looked like to Darrell Ray.
(This piece originally appeared at FanGraphs. It has since been revised and made even worse, probably.)