Robert Cooperman, Hank Greenberg in His Next Life

Robert Cooperman

“Hammerin’ Hank” refused to play
one Yom Kippur during a pennant race:
Tiger fans yelled, “Kike,” pissed off
their best player—a Jew they tolerated
because he was great—took his religion
more seriously than baseball. Blasphemy!

Plus, he hadn’t sat in a synagogue for years.
And hell, didn’t Christian Major Leaguers
play on Good Friday, on Easter Sunday?
So what was the big god damn deal?

In his next life: a sabra, a kibbutznik,
drawing real milk and honey from the desert.
He’d man a tractor, and at the warning bell,
run for his rifle to defend the land.

Let someone else study Talmud.
Let someone else daven at the Wall:
Hank worked hard all day in the sun,
and once the euphoria of the Six Day War
drifted away like mist from the Golan Heights,
he warned his fellow kibbutzim:

“Just watch, this whirlwind will never stop swirling.”

Still, after an honest day’s toil, he’d join in
to chant the blessing, then fall on the evening meal.

Bio: Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is CITY HAT FRAME FACTORY (Aldrich Press). Forthcoming from FutureCycle Press is DRAFT BOARD BLUES. IN THE COLORADO GOLD FEVER MOUNTAINS won the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. Cooperman’s work has appeared in THE SEWANEE REVIEW, SLANT, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

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