Three-Fingered Dave Keefe (January 9, 1897 - February 4, 1978)
Lose the middle finger of your right hand,
to a corn-cuttin' machine's blades,
just months after taking your first steps,
no problem: grip a baseball any way you can...
invent the forkball, strike out Babe Ruth
three times in one game. Your country
goes to war, no problem: go for the bigger reality,
join the Navy. Baseball is there when you come home.
Major League hitters learn you're a one-pitch pony...
no problem: there's plenty of minor league baseball
in Milwaukee, Portland, Waterbury, Buffalo,
Knoxville, Providence, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre....
Too old to get minor leaguers out, no problem:
talk to Connie Mack, become the first professional
Major League batting practice pitcher...
hittable enough to last twenty years, to the delight
of Jimmy The Beast Foxx, Mickey Cochrane,
Al Bucket Foot Simmons. For you, grandchild
of the Irish Famine, Fermanagh blood in your heart,
nothing is too difficult, no call too tough to answer.
Your hotel catches fire, you jog out at age eighty-one.
You turn back at the cry of a fire-trapped woman,
pivot your still-hard body, run into the flames,
charge a flight of stairs, carry her down
to a Kansas City sidewalk... with a last smile.
There's a problem: smoky, ember-scorched lungs.