THE BARD OF QUEENS
A Poet Of The Mets Versifies Of Doom
by Corey Kilgannon, reprinted from the NY Times
After watching the Mets lose Thursday night — the team’s 10th loss in its last 14 games — he left a hushed Shea Stadium, took two trains back to his home in Norwood, N.J., and composed “Victory’s Door,” which begins with this stanza:
Do you know what it’s like
To be chased by the Ghost of Failure
While staring through Victory’s door?
Of course you do, you’re a Mets fan.
“My father used to apologize to us for bringing us up as Mets fans and making our life so difficult,” he recalled. “I started out writing about growing up a Mets fan in a Yankee town: the victories, failures and struggles and angst of being a lifelong Mets fan.”
In his poem, “Mets Fan,” he declares himself “a second-class citizen/ trapped in a first-rate city” It is also to be “the outsider;/ Slumbering through broken dreams/ like an abandoned umbrella, blowing/ down Big Apple’s Broadway of ‘meaningless September.’”
“Most people don’t think of baseball as a typical poetry topic, but it has everything in human nature that makes for great writing,” Mr. Messina said recently in an interview. “It has victories and failures and struggles and angst.”
Mr. Messina writes about some of the regulars in his section at Shea, like the man whose body is covered in Met tattoos, and the old beer vendor who wears his Purple Heart medal on his cap and relates his story about the Battle of the Bulge
Joe Benigno, who is also a die-hard Mets fan, and like Mr. Messina talks as if he is working behind a New Jersey deli counter, knows something about sports fan poetry, mastering such everyday-guy phrases as “Who’s better than you?” and “What, are you kidding me?”
“No one would question a poet writing about love for a woman, but when you’re a fan of a team, the emotional attachment is even stronger, because women come and go, but your team never changes,” Mr. Benigno said. “People who are not sports fans don’t understand that.”
Yo La Tengo are the Mets lovingest band in rock. Their name comes from famous lore about Mets Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacon. Here’s some songs from their fifth album, May I Sing With Me, their first with now permabassist James McNew, and their cover of “Meet The Mets” from WFMU‘s fundraiser, as documented on Yo La Tengo Murder The Classics.
Five Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck) – Yo La Tengo: mp3
Sleeping Pill – Yo La Tengo: mp3
Satellite – Yo La Tengo: mp3
Meet The Mets – Yo La Tengo: mp3
Molly Lambert is Senior Editor of This Recording. She wonders if Sonic Youth are Yankees fans but imagines they don’t give a fuck about baseball.