National Poetry Month Day 27: “Barry Bonds on the Witness Stand” by Oscar Bermeo


Welcome to The Rumpus’s National Poetry Month project. We’ll be running a new poem from a different poet each day for the month of April.

Barry Bonds on the Witness Stand

    Barry Bonds trial, courtroom blog Day 11

8:32 a.m.: People lining up for court, but if they’re
here to see Bonds they’ll probably be disappointed

9:15 a.m.: Defense rests without calling any

9:22 a.m.: Trial adjourned for the day, closing
arguments set for Thursday

— Excerpted from The San Jose Mercury News.

Yes, I did it. Succeeded while black. Smashed your ivory icons. Played your game by
my rules. Outgrew my body’s limitations. Pushed past my own limits. Engraved my
name in your history books. No, I take that back, blasted my way into highlight reels.
Became the picture definition of full yard, live ball, lumber, long ball, barrel, handle,
maple snap, frozen rope, bleacher ball, hysteria.

Did it all on my terms. Without smiling into your cameras. Endorsing your quotes.
Holding your babies and flashing peace signs while talking about how I owe it all to
my fans, teammates, America and God Almighty. No, I dropped your babies and stole
the pitching signs, stood up there with the bat in one hand and the needle in the other,
stood up against perception, eyed down the ball and let my swing speak for me without
asking for permission.

That’s why I’m really here. My crime is never forgetting how your newspapers dogged
out my father. Hyped him to the high heavens, then dropped him at an open bar where
he had to learn to crawl through the bar sawdust floor before he could run again. And
every time he ran the press was right there, ready to remind the world how the bottle
was running just as fast behind him.

And I was there, listening and reading, watching and praying to see who would win the
race. All the while swearing I would never be defenseless when a reporter with a smile
and microphone came to my face.

One more thing, not only would I do it again but I’d do it sooner. Even before Viagra,
Ritalin and Valium helped America find its fix and morality at the end of a script. I’d do it again, be your modern day John Henry with a loaded bat going up against the media
machine with an anabolic heart beyond quit.

Oscar Bermeo

If you like what the Rumpus is doing for National Poetry Month, you’ll probably like this multimedia anthology of original poems we’ve run at The Rumpus over the last three years. Available only for iPad. Check it out!

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →