A critical technique of this game is movement
in the line of aim, so the strike is executed
smoothly, without hesitation, moving all body
parts in the desired direction. Depending
on how much power is required, the main
“firing” command is relayed from thigh muscles
through back and arm and via the wrist to the hand.
Surprisingly, a somnambulist best embodies
the almost mystic ideal of total engagement
known as the Flow state, achieving greater
accuracy and control than a waking player.
Research confirms that sleepers can perform
a sequence of complex behaviors and tasks, including,
despite an apparently glazed, unseeing expression,
the trick of retaining a final, decisive look
at the target and bringing this picture back to the striking
zone to ensure that the “missile” is well and truly
addressed. That image doesn’t last long and so
the strike must be initiated quickly.
We can regard the world as the nation’s backyard
for the purposes of the game, with string or chalk
together with flags defining the field of play
(all flesh is grass for this lawn) and a deadness board
to record a striker’s progress. Irregular patches
like the Caucasus mountains are not an obstacle,
wickets can double as archways to populous cities,
and stockpiles of mallets and balls are plentiful.
Salmon Poetry, Ireland, will bring out Philip Fried’s eighth book of poetry, Among the Gliesians, in the spring of 2020. Thomas Lux said of my work, “I love Philip Fried’s elegant quarrels with the cruelty and ignorance of the world or, more precisely, its inhabitants.”