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The Curse of the Wet Luzinski: Everything That Could Possibly Go Wrong for the 2010 Phillies (Act IV: The Bullpen Chapbook)

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Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds!

~Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, V, iii

The first step in any therapeutic process involving anxiety is to name that thing you fear most. So it may have taken us to Act IV of my tragedy (hey, who doesn't procrastinate when it comes to dealing with fear?), but let's all take that first step together:   Bullpen.   Bullpen.   Bullpen. Next step: Normalize. Every team worries about its bullpen heading into the season, right? And it's part of basic training for any type of organization to put its most vulnerable performers under some stress to see how they hold up. They may surprise you! Third step: Take concrete actions to deal with your fear. Do it today. Fourth step: Become forward-focused. Try to anticipate the future.

And as you do all these things, of course,  you have to embrace those activites and people you enjoy most. For me, it's writing free verse about the Phillies' relievers here at thegoodphight.

Oh no I didn't!? Oh, yes...I did.

Jose Contreras

After we broke up, I remembered that other girl, the one

I spied from a sideways glance: Substantial, exotic, mature. It was fall.

She seemed to sparkle in the crisp autumn air. So I called her. We began

and tried to make sense. I pretended not to hear

the comments, did not see the lines around the eyes, did not feel regret

We remain an item, and with each warming day

and every tab I pick up, I glance sideways.


Chad Durbin 

They have a kind of rough leather surface, greyish brown in color, do nothing for my arches,

yet each Sunday I consider wearing them to church. Some odd compulsion makes me keep them.

They are not nice enough for work, not stylish enough for a date in the city,

my vague homage to my father's floppy Hush Puppies

I am wealthy enough to buy a new pair, but never get around to it. The balls

of my feet have worn into the rubber sole. My legs always hurt a little after I wear them;

Surely a visit and bill from an orthopod looms, I think, as the phone rings.

I return them to my closet for another week, another prayer.


Antonio Bastardo 

That spring term when my schedule was light, and I hit the bars 

as a ritualistic dare, we read the book everyone talked about. 

I felt snotty and pretentious carrying it, hip, mock black-turtlenecked

and headed toward graduation. But when I read it

I wondered what the fuss was about. I faked it in discussions,

never got past page 89, wrote essays about other books on the syllabus, got an A.

Only out of guilt, and the insistence of others, did I pick it up during the summer,

took it to the beach, finished the chapter, went for a swim

and never looked at it again. Ask me today, and I'll say the same thing:

Yeah, I read it, I'll say. It was good.


Danys Baez

That last gift under the tree was the one I had saved, convinced

it was something other than it was. At 10, Santa was actively debunked,

and new ideas were taking hold, like sacrifice, reconciliation, redemption.

Unwrapped, it was simple to describe: I had wanted it, but when I was seven.

I was old enough and young enough now to be unable to say a word.


Ryan Madson 

Pasteur and Roux harvested vaccine from infected rabbits,

from which the nerve tissue was weakened by allowing it to dry for five to ten days.

To think that it was bunny nerves that could prevent the symptoms, which

expand to slight or partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia,  anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations, progressing to delirium.

That such a transplant could possibly take root in a new skin, and cure madness.

What improbable leaps we take, born of necessity.


David Herndon

It is the tragic among us who never browse, never once

wander aimlessly through library stacks, perhaps with one or two letters or numbers, an idea

of where to look, and nothing more. We are so good at searching that we fail to look around,

miss the joy of serendipity, never feel the embrace of the unknown,

or know the friendship of a next-door neighbor. True: thrift stores are full of cloying junk

and empty afternoons, and the unknown embrace at times is a joy buzzer, or worse: a taser.

We still open our arms.


Andrew Carpenter

Resilient crocus

Sings the old song of springtime:

Happy to be here.


J. C. Romero 

Last week I sent an email with an apology. It said:

"Sorry for the delay on this. When I filled in the boxes of the spreadsheet you sent me

back in January, I discovered I had done the work already, just

neglected to send it.  Apologies."

I meant to say:

This is work you should have done yourself, you lazy ass. I hate you. 


Now that I have typed in your boxes on your scorecard

You have all the data you need to continue to make excuses. Or work on it. 


Brad Lidge 

Ah! How we went pozzo the night he strung up Il Duce with piano wire

And celebrated it all like our new Garabaldi; the day sunny, the Americans here, 

exchanging our vino for their nylons and chocolate, fully unaware that the pressure we piled on him

Was too much to bear. Two years and five governments later

We groan at every strike, the hours-late trains, and whisper secretly

how fashionable guys in dark shirts look.