Their pitcher walks our leadoff man. Greg
moves him up to second with a perfect
sacrifice. Fabian loops one into right.
I'm up. Two on, one out. I'm the cleanup
man. My job is to bring these guys home.
I take a pitch. Foul one off. Take a strike.
Their left fielder drifts in.
Bam! I lift one right over his head. A double!
Two runs score. I slide into second. Safe!
That's what I'm thinking, anyway, propped
up in bed with some dumb book.
Than Dad comes in and says, "The doctor
called. Your tests came back. You've got
"So I can't play ball."
He pats my knee. "You can't even go to
school, Kevin. You need to take it real easy."
He hands me a journal, one of those marbly
black-and-white ones he likes.
"You're gonna have a lot of time on your
hands. Maybe you'll feel like writing
Being sick is like taking a trip, isn't it?
Going to another country, sort of.
A country nobody wants to visit.
A country named Fevertown.
Or Virusburg. Or Germ Corners.
The border guards are glum-looking,
with runny noses and pasty skin. Their
uniforms don't fit and flap open in the
back so you can see their big, ugly butts.
Nobody wants to go there, but everybody
does, sooner or later.
And some stay.
Dad's never talked to me about writing
before. He's not nuts to have me be just
Len Boggs has a dad like that. It's been
Boggs & Son ever since Lennie was about
two seconds old.
They're plumbers. "Got clogs? Call Boggs!"
Don't laugh. Their vans are all over the
place. They're rich.
And Len hates it.
Lennie's fourteen, like me. He doesn't
know what he wants to do when he grows
up. Maybe go in the Marines. Maybe play
But he for sure doesn't want to be
His dad is already on his case, riding him
I think mine's just trying to be nice.
Well, not exactly. Dad's here, that's why
we don't have to get somebody to come
in and take care of me.
First of all, I don't need much care. I sleep
all the time, or at least it feels that way.
Dad works at home. He and I pass
each other in the hall—
I in my sweats, he in his cap.
When I was little and I got sick, Mom used
to read to me.
Thinking about that's not going to help.
INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW
Why am I writing down the middle
of the page?
It kind of looks like poetry, but no way
is it poetry. It's just stuff.
So I tiptoe into the den and cop this book
It feels weird smuggling something about
poetry up to my room like it's the new
But I don't want Dad to know what I'm
doing yet. Even though I'm not doing
anything. Not really.
I'm just going to fool around a little,
see what's what poetry-wise.
HOW DO YOU DO, HAIKU
I thought I'd start small. I kind of
remember haiku from school last year.
I at least remember they're little.
But, man—I never saw so many frogs
in the moonlight. And leaves. Leaves
all over the place.
Weren't there any gardeners in ancient
Japan? Weren't there any cats and dogs?
Still, haiku look easy. Sort of. Five
syllables in the first line, seven
in the second, five in the third.
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs.
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs.
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, leaves.
Very funny, Kevin.
At least I finished it. I can't finish anything
else, except my nap. Seventeen syllables
is just about right for somebody with my
reduced stamina. Perfect thing for an
Oh, man—look at that: IN VALID. I never
saw that before.
Just a single space
in a word I thought I knew
made the difference.
SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP by Ron Koertge. Copyright (c) 2006 by Ron Koertge. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Excerpted from Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge. Copyright © 2006 by Ron Koertge. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.