the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Laurel Blosssom

George Plimpton Is Insecure

We had a fiction team, a non-fiction team,
publishers, corporations, and a team of

poets (Galway, and I think Mark Strand
among them). George Plimpton was the m.c.

of our first annual benefit bowling tournament.
Because, I told him, after all

the sports he'd tried, he really should try bowling.
When he picked up the mic, I remember

thinking, We did it! So we did it again.
But I didn't ask George to m.c. a second time.

I was insecure. I thought it would be imposing.
When I saw him, though, he asked me

why. He looked so sad, as if he thought I thought
he hadn't been sufficiently imposing.


George Plimpton's Bike

When he left the bowling alley
he also left his glasses.

When I saw them there
I thought they were probably his.

When I called to inquire
he said yes, in fact they were.

When I said I could drop them off,
he said he could pick them up.

When the doorman called upstairs
he said George Plimpton was in the lobby.

I could tell he was impressed.
I could tell he was staring.

When I went down to the lobby
George was standing on the marble floor

beside the bicycle that hung on the office wall
of The Paris Review when not in use,

so that it looked like a pair of glasses
or huge, supernatural eyes.

When George rode his bicycle around town
he sometimes forgot where he had parked it

so that when I think of him now, I think of him
with the glasses he came to pick up that day

in his pocket as he rides around
a perfect replica of the city, always

ready for a new adventure, confident at last
nothing will probably get misplaced or overlooked.


A Brief History of Bowling

Objects found in the grave of an Egyptian boy may belong to a crude form of bowling.
The objects, found in 1930, date from 3200 B.C.

In the Dark Ages, bowling determined if you had sinned.
Martin Luther preached, however, that even if you rolled a gutter ball, all was not lost.

King Edward III banned bowling as a distraction from 100 years of archery practice.
Henry VIII played nine-pins.

In downtown New York it's still called Bowling Green.
Consider the legend of Rip van Winkle.

In 1841 Connecticut outlawed nine-pins because it attracted gambling.
Somebody invented ten-pins.

In 1917 women organized their own bowling congress.
Remember "Bowling for Dollars?" (1951)

The first White House bowling alley was installed in 1947 in what is now the Situation Room.
Today, a one-lane bowling alley occupies space in the basement beneath the North Portico.

In 1968 police killed three black students
Protesting segregation at a local bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Ancient Polynesians rolled stones the length of a bowling lane (60 feet).
Herman Melville set pins in Hawaii.



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