Tag Archives: boxing

Regular Poem: Perpetually Training to be the Middleweight Champion of 1944

8 Mar

A sequel to TKO in the 4th

You’re packing
quite the wallop today, toots.

She says
leaning against the doorjamb
idly adjusting her seams.

I’d let you see firsthand
if you got out of those stockings
and put your money where your mouth is.

Jab, hook.

In a blink
she’s sashayed over
with a scowl on her painted face.

I’ll do you but good
pumps and all.

I laugh
and there’s a lot of twist
in my torso,
land a left cross
(I’m not a southpaw
but I dabble).

The truth is
I haven’t seen her
in a while,
haven’t needed to.
I’ve taken to
reciting states and capitals
instead of fantasizing.
I don’t know
if that’s a win or a loss.

But I ran into her again today–
that is I finally agreed
to meet up with her again.

(I’ve been running into her a lot–
just in the hallway, in the elevator, passing in the breakroom,
when the siren screams for shift change–
she passes me a note,
gives me a glance,
whispers so only I can hear.

I finally capitulated.
I told her so.

Fancy!
she said.
Probably learned that word in charm school.
But fancy ain’t gonna get you too far tonight.
)

I’m faster
now,
or perhaps
less slow–
been practicing my shuffe,
exhaling at just the right moment.

Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, shuffle back.
I look over,
and she looks a little impressed, but
then the grizzled old dockworker
is there, too,
cigar in his mouth,
smoke and sarcasm billowing:

Your parents wasted their money
on that charm school.
Didn’t even teach you how to dance.

My feet get lighter,
but my arms are stiffer.

Jab, cross.
Jab, cross.

I know I’m thinking too much.
He cocks his head to one side.

Punch like you’re
punching something
instead of like
you’re pretending
to punch something.

He’s right.
I have no follow-through, no follow-up.

Hook, hook,
uppercut, uppercut,
shuffle back.

He steps up to the bag,
inspects it,
turns to me with an
old-guy twinkle in his eyes.

You know this thing
don’t have hair, right?
No reason to have some
sissy slap fight with it.

You’ve obviously never
had your hair pulled.

I say (or perhaps
she says),
shoving the feminist rage
into my pocket for later.
It ain’t no joke.

And it isn’t,
but he laughs anyway.

And my face–her face–is melting;
the lipstick is gone,
the mascara is pretending to be black eyes, but
we know it’s not that
because sweat is saltier
than tears,
and who has time for tears
when you’ve got
a heavy bag in your garage?

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