Three Poems

To Mookie Wilson

Mr. Wilson, I have been a fan of yours

since I saw your name

on the scoreboard of Big Shea

with my Uncle Michael, back in the day

when he was still alive, before

anyone knew the full extent

of the damage that was done to him

by Agent Orange.

We loved your wheels and

your hustle, which made us jump

out of our seats, when Hubie Brooks

drove you home

to win a game against the Dodgers,

which made it rain

peanut shell shrapnel

in the right field upper deck,

the basepaths of my family history

dotted with spike prints.




To John Pacella

Mr. Pacella, Johnny P,

as my father called you

when he watched you pitch on TV

in your big league debut,

your passion for the game, for playing

in New York, your home

state, was palpable. You fired

throw after throw

as hard as you could.

You weren’t a Metsie for long,

but you made my father ecstatic,

knowing that an Italian guy

from Long Island:

The Guyland could make it

to The Show, like you did

when you were 21,

your hat falling off

after every pitch.



To Rusty Staub


Dear Mr. Staub:

if I could cook

half as well as you;

If I could hit

one tenth as well as you,

I would be happier

than any man or woman

drunk on Hurricanes

during Mardi Gras.

You learned French

when you played

for the Montreal Expos

so you could converse

with the city’s fans

and reporters.

You showed

new Mets teammates

around New York City

and helped them find

places to live. I didn’t have

the chance to eat

at your restaurant,

but getting to see some

of the 500 knocks you had

with four different teams;

hearing your kind voice

during telecasts, and

hearing others

speak of you as they do:

the meals you served

to people without homes,

the support you gave

to the widows and children

of 9/11’s first responders

makes my heart grow

like grass

emerging through snow;

streetlights ripening

like grapes

in the vineyard of night.





Joey Nicoletti was born in New York City; he works in Buffalo.