Boxing Without Gloves

Thick-skinned and quick-tempered, he was a wrestler
who’d slam you to the floor, whether or not any bells rang;
pin you to the mat, his elbow in your throat, the bliss

of his victory dripping on your forehead. Bare-handed, fists
balled into meaty knots, he was determined
to get anyone, anyone, before they could get him. He got that

from his father; back then he didn’t know if he was coming or going,
his old man had him so wound up and ready. Hungry for fire,
shuffling his tricky feet, he was a boxer who’d jab you back

with clever insults, crack himself up, pummel your good intentions
silly. Just ask his girls, he didn’t know how to stop. But
he had this sweetness that kept bringing you back, threw you

off balance as you stood ready for the next blow. Still,
even if you wanted to get close to him, he wouldn’t let you;
a longer arm you have never seen. At the end, swinging

and forcing his last rushes of air, he passed on
his humor, his shadow, as gifts, mementos. Fistfuls
and fistfuls of unsaid words.



Published by FINISHING LINE PRESS, Chapbook, November 2014

This poem may not be reproduced without the author’s permission.