BORN IN A BOXING GYM
From a long line of mediocre middleweights,
You step into the ring, the challenger.
Blood spurts from a cut over your right eye,
Possibly a headbutt.
His fists dance,
Constantly counter punching,
Zinging vengeful shots,
Popping your head back.
You open your opponent’s forehead
Just above his right eyebrow,
A stream of fresh blood flows,
His eyebrow flayed open
Like a fish you remember gutting.
When you were a young boy.
When you learned to put bait on a fishhook.
Helping you find the fishhook’s tie.
In a fifteen foot ring.
He corners you,
You bob and weave like you’ve been taught,
Knowing that you’re being tested,
As blood trickles into your eye,
You’re in a real brawl,
Because you can’t connect with your right.
You shield yourself,
Sense a quick defeat.
And in a sudden synapse, your mind
Drifts back to the plains of your youth,
A pair of white sheets flapping on a clothesline
On a late windy, summer day
On the flat prairie of Oklahoma,
In the middle of nowhere,
Bobbing and weaving
Your eyes puffy and nearly closed,
You can’t see a thing,
Only a seam and slender separation
Between reality and fantasy
Which holds you together
Like lovers embracing,
Holding each other
In a final clench before they divorce.
You jab, punch at a phantom face.
Throw more wild uppercuts and body shots. .
For a second, just before you feel the blow,
Knocking the wind out of you,
Let your guard down,
Take a quick hook to the side of your head,
Get tagged, get punched stupid,
Get your bell rung.
In a matter of moments
It’s all over.
Your opponent steps forward,
Throws a brutal knockout blow.