Conversation with Two-Time Mid-American Conference Relief Pitcher Douglas Dean Stackhouse on Winning, Losing and Learning to Fiddle

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fullerphotoJane Ann Devol Fuller is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She co-authored a book of poems and prints, Revenants: A Story of Many Lives (2000), with Deni Naffziger, which was awarded a Special Projects Grant by the Ohio Arts Council. She co-edited Riverwind Literary Magazine for several years and teaches at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Pikeville Review and Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature. Currently helping edit StockPort Flats’ Confluence Series, she is working on a manuscript tentatively titled The Torturer’s Horse.  In 2015 she was awarded the Boatwright Poetry Prize by Shenandoah.  She’s now playing with an all-female group of Old Time Musicians called The Trophy Wives.

                                A Complaint
                                by WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
                                There is a change—and I am poor;
                                 Your love hath been, nor long ago,
                                 A fountain at my fond heart’s door,
                                 Whose only business was to flow;
                                 And flow it did; not taking heed
                                 Of its own bounty, or my need.

“Taking up the fiddle at 50”
I toss to the wind,
                like a bad call on a perfect pitch,
“would be like your trying to throw again.”

I had thought the rotting zinnias clung to a memory
of success. I point out a jar of them
                                                                propped in the window.

“There is no going back,” he says, throws his gear
                over his shoulder,
                                                  and leaves
                                       another glimmering testament:

“When I won, it was no big deal.
                                      I was supposed to win,” he says.
                “But when I lost,
                                we lost. I couldn’t go back and change it.”

I take lessons, play the scales back,

                let the freshly dead (notes, petals, words)
                                confetti the kitchen floor.

I imagine, in September, the jar in the window
                                                            blushing with flowers,

and tolerate the dog’s rebuke.

                Then I consider the solitary act
                         of so much bowing, as
strings ignite the sweet spot;

                                the burled neck, the smooth stroke,
and the cool relief of “Stack”
                                pitching out of the stretch:

“This is not Macbeth,” says teacher Liz, “We are not witches
stirring a pot!”

                and she ruins me with an LP of Tommy Jarrell’s “Cripple Creek.”

                         What can I do but separate the cream
from all of that churning:

                     winding up a pitch;
throwing a cutter,

            culling seeds from finished stalks;
riding a Ferris wheel in the dark…what

but trade blind hope—
                                for an alley cat’s complaint—

and keep listening to the masters.

Discussion

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