previous poem table of contents next poem


Patrick Lawler


Mickey Mantle Sees Isabel Allende Holding the Head of Hermann Hesse as he Dreams of Mother Eve | audio | Mickey Mantle on Youtube


                When I’m in Mexico,
                Mickey Mantle
                is dying of cancer.
                Once I burned
                his baseball cards
                in a shoebox—
                a symbolic gesture
                of leaving.


The seas are rough around Cancun.
Black flags on all the beaches.


            Everyday I go looking for a      milagro,
            miniature figures: body parts, inner
            organs, animals. They are offered
            to a saint to commemorate
            a miracle or to ask the saint’s intercession.

How do you say:

                                     “I am an American,

                and I am prepared

to buy everything you have”?


         I’m going to go swimming with the dolphins.
         I’m going to go diving into the strange—as if words
         were a species, as if desire were a species, as if pain
                                                  were a species.


                                                  I dream about
                                                  in bright colored jump suits
                                                  falling through the sky.


This is the week when we celebrate
dropping the bomb on Hiroshima.

       The usual parades.
Shadow floats. Balloons filled with tears.
Helium carried by men and women
                       with melted hands.


                                       On the way to Tulum,
                                       I dive into a cenote,
                                       a hole into an underground
                                       river, a lavish mouth,
                                       a fantastic eye filled
                                       with holy water and forgiveness.


          Everyday I look for a       milagro,
          little medals made of tin or silver or gold—
          wax or wood or bone.
          If you have a headache,
          the milagro will be in the shape of a head.

          If your heart is hurt,
          it will be in the shape of a heart.
          You pin them on a saint
          and everything is made better.



                                               How do you say:
                                               “I am an
                                               and I will sell you
                                               you will never


           I am afraid I will not find
           the appropriate      milagro.


It is 8:15 a.m. August 6, 1945.
A six-year-old boy waits
on the platform of the Hiroshima Station.
He waits for a train that vanishes as it arrives.


                                 I dream about parachutists—
                                 1,000s of them in brilliant yellows,
                                 whites, and oranges dropping out of the sky
                                 in the field next to the house
                                 I grew up in as a child.
                                 They are on a secret mission.


                       A woman rubs my hair and says it will cost
                       a certain amount of pesos for the room,
                       a certain amount of pesos for her body.
                                  She offers me the cenote.
                       The delicious waters of her skin.


                                  A Mexican friend and his wife feed me
                                  in a bungalow of sticks and tar paper.
                                  La casa de mis suenos. They are proud.
                                  She is pregnant.             I am American.


I needed someone else other than my father
to be my father. Mickey Mantle
stumbles around the bases.
                                            The ball will never land.


                            I look for a milagro for Mickey Mantle—
                            something in the shape of lungs or wings.


           Fifty years ago we set the sky on fire.
                      Robert Lewis, the copilot
           of the Enola Gay,           writes in his
           “My God, what have we done?”


                                               I look for
                                               with melted



It is 1961 and I am dying.
My eyes don’t need me any longer.
It is 1995 and the parachutists
come and announce
I’ve been dead a long time.


                              I want       to give       my Mexican friend
                              a milagro           the size           of a fetus.

          The sea’s shoulders are collapsing
          under the pinned moon.
          One-hundred-fifty-thousand people
          come out of the sea waving black flags.


                                                         How do you say:
                                                                 “I am an


                          In Hiroshima they float
                          brightly colored umbrellas and lanterns
                          on Hiroshima’s seven rivers
                          to remember the dead, to remember those
                          who drowned trying to cool
                          their burning bodies.

Tonight, there will be an aluminum moon
pinned to the sky.
I won’t go swimming with the dolphins.
It’s 1995,
                              and America
will put Mickey Mantle in a shoebox.