The B-Team

Their pilot Mulligan was only crazy for golf, practicing his swing whenever he could:

on the tarmac, in the air, and even while fleeing North Korean groundskeeper cells.

Otherwise, plenty of rest and fluids made his world go round, granting the energy

and mental acuity to tackle each day’s tasks, like diversifying his retirement holdings.

 

Their conman “Hands” was an artist in the fluidity with which he communicated

with his arms and fingers, mesmerizing men and women in security uniforms

to give up their goods, which is how they obtained the ancient Dodge Ram

van, HQ for the group’s epic, scandalous and sometimes illegal adventures.

 

Their driver, strongman, and mathematician A. B. Abacus could bench four hundred

pounds and recite pi to the thousandth digit, often simultaneously, sometimes while

also filling out the team’s expense reports. Forger of iron catchphrases, he inspired

millions of boys to recite, “I offer my deepest sympathy to the intellectually benighted.”

 

Their leader John “Patton” Doe ran an Army Navy surplus store and pawn emporium

that spawned many of their adventures on long runs through the night to pick up

howitzers for customers with erectile dysfunction and military grade glow sticks

for the tweaker ravers on the boulevard. Clenching a peppermint stick in his teeth

 

and spouting, “I love it when a gambit reaches fruition,” he organized the most

raging underground chess tournament in the Southland, one marked by the rescue

of a eighteenth-century antique ceramic set and the seizure of twenty kilograms

of bootleg Adderall peddled by Geert Van Wafel, that evil Belgian grandmastermind.

 

That was nothing compared to the recovery of gold medallions crafted for the KKK,

hidden in bunkers at Masonic lodges, where former athletes from East Germany

guarded the bootleg coins along with a super-soldier formula rumored to endow

the user with the verve of a hundred teenage men. The B Team dared not guzzle

 

much because half of them were taking blood thinners, but enough sipping occurred

for a great midnight cow-tipping escapade to coalesce, one which could have ended

in tragedy or, worse, capture if Mulligan’s remote-control helicopter had not masterfully

distracted both a shotgun-toting farmer and A.B., tonic-drunk, dancing with phantom

 

scarecrows that turned out to be Jack Mormons posing as corn-belt Amish outlaws.

The closest scrape came on a fishing trip in Appalachia, when Hands got caught

holding a pair of supple rattlesnakes as he taught a preacher’s daughter to speak

in tongues, the caterwauling from tent flaps an alarm for Patton, facing impossible

 

truths about aging and reaction time, coming a little too late, two punctures in an arm,

ministerial father on the prowl, sprinkling consecrated water from the sulfurous nearby

hot spring on all parties, the B-Team’s leader fumbling for antivenin, razor blades and

whiskey, Mulligan and A.B. out of earshot at the rushing river, three trout from the limit.

 

The close calls brought them to a relationship counselor who suggested that the Army

might not really be after them, but ex-wives might be, that the gun and knife shows

were not havens for smugglers and assassins, and the man bouts and whiskey shots

created a dance for them to lock fists and horns, a solitary animal bleeding its love.

Raised in Michigan but now living in Southern California, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. John’s chapbook Breach Birth has recently been published on Propaganda Press and Martin’s book Captive won the 2011 De Novo Prize and will be published on C & R Press in the summer of 2012.

Their previous collaboration, Poets’ Guide to America, will be published by Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012, featuring poems published in more than forty magazines including Center, Confrontation, Evergreen Review, Post Road and ZYZZYVA.