Matthew Brennan: “Mordecai Three Finger Brown”



Every fall you’ll find me standing in

an open bay of my gas station based

at Seventh Street and Cherry, Texaco

in blood-red stitched across my barrel chest.

The radio atop the tool bench

sends the ballgame’s play by play out to

the pumps. Here, when the kids from campus stop,

I’ll grip the hose’s handle with three fingers—

what Uncle’s grinding knives bequeathed to me

when I’d stuck out my hand beneath a mower

and traded down, from farms to underground

in mines surrounding Terre Haute. Yet there,

I’d practice tossing coal to heaps of spill.

Next thing you know the Cardinals call, and I

am resurrected. Won the Series twice,

and made it as a Cub into the Hall.


Although I’m catty-corner from the college

and my full name shines on the sign in bold,

the co-eds and their crew-cut beaus don’t know

who I once was and would not care a lick

that Cobb himself struck out against my curve.

But it’s the pitch I mined like gold when bad luck hit.



Matthew Brennan has published six collections of poetry, most recently Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems (Lamar U. Literary Press, 2021). Besides GHLL, his poems and criticism have appeared in THINK, Amsterdam Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Sewanee Review, New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. After more than three decades of teaching at Indiana State U. he retired and now lives in Columbus, Ohio.<