On “Kickball on the Washington Mall” (#11)

While performing some minor edits on “Spring Break in Omaha” on September 2, 2009, Martin came up with a couple of ideas for our next poem:

– Twitty City (in Henderson TN) – Conway Twitty’s graceland before it became the home of the christian trinity broadcast network..

– Wash. D.C. – they do adult kickball league on the mall with uniforms (companies/government teams) – we could have two intelligence organizations get involved in a kickball war…

The second idea especially appealed to John, so Martin did some research on the kickball league and sent his partner some links on September 7.

After celebrating our first joint acceptance, “Bee Lust in Manhattan” by Bryant Literary Review, we got down to work on “Kickball on the Washington Mall” (AKA “Lucky #13,” our thirteenth collaboration) on September 11. Martin kicked us off with the following sentence:

The NSA Nukes could not believe the arrogance
of the Agency Argonauts trotting in minutes before

the championship match, not after the scandal
over the tampered ball, rocket propelled from remote

control, blew off the thumb of the umpire so that
no one could be gestured out at the plate.

Or did John write the last two lines? Sometimes, as in the world of espionage, the question of who has done what grows murky. John definitely wrote the last lines, as we wrapped up this particular game on September 14, but Martin revised them. So if the last lines are revealed to contain encoded classified material, which of us will end up in federal prison? Are prisoners at Guantanamo Bay allowed to play kickball?

“Kickball on the Washington Mall” first appeared in The Bicycle Review Number 8 (August 24, 2010). It is the eleventh poem in the final sequence of Poets’ Guide to America.

About poetsguide

A former altar boy and a former U.S. Army interrogator, respectively, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott were born and raised in Michigan, meeting each other at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor before separately migrating to California in the early 1990s to attend graduate schools, their friendship evolving into a writing collaboration – what they refer to as poetic volleyball. They both currently live in Southern California, John with his wife, Martin with his wife and two children. John teaches English composition at several local colleges, while Martin works as a marketing strategist for a global company. John still affects a strange piety; Martin still finds himself asking a lot of questions. Individually and together, their writing has appeared in over 150 periodicals and anthologies, garnering three Pushcart Prize nominations for Martin’s poems “India Ivy” and “When Bridges Fall” (available in his collection Children of Interrogation, which has been a finalist or semi-finalist in eighteen poetry prizes) and John’s “Poem for Christy’s Daughter” (available in his collection Kinks in the Hose). Martin has also optioned three screenplays. His chapbook Misery Loves was published on Red Dancefloor Press. John’s chapbook Breach Birth was published on Propaganda Press.
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