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The Pacifist Boxer Enters the Gym

 

Waits for the bell

and when it rings

he’s turning cheek after cheek,

 

fast as a Savior,

cheek-smack, cheek-smack,

he turns and turns

 

so quick the champ’s left

hand doesn’t know

what his right hand has done.

 

The challenger walks straight

into a punch hard enough

to remind him of judgment

 

for days after. He’s studied

all the best moves of Ali,

of Ghandi, of Frazier,

of the Martyrs, of King.

 

Sure, he goes down several times

his nose skewed

like the root of a tree.

 

But he twists once, twice, like a dance

and smiles his split lip into

a question mark,

 

and the champ sees for a moment a fist smack

in the middle of the very word

that could be his undoing.

 

And that’s how I’m telling

it to you, now,

and in parables for years,

 

telling you through my gap-toothed

head, in several tongues, my mouth

full of blood, and none on my hands.

 

 

Showing a Photograph to Raymond Carver of My Father in His 31st year

 

The grin and high cheeks, the tightened lips, poised

before an exclamation to my mother,

could break Raymond Carver’s taut heart.

 

His young father carried fish on a string

and bottles of beer in one hand. Little

Raymond had not yet been born.

 

But I am the serious bellied boy

at the wooden arm of your old lawn chair.

I am pictured and pleasant enough and small.

 

I desire to be the opened book,

the paper in your right hand’s steadied grip,

left hand relaxed from reading me.

 

I would like to show you Raymond Carver’s

poem and the 1934 Ford

he parked behind his Daddy.

 

I would like to show Ray the jig-sawed scar

on your outside right thigh and ask him why

he thinks it never healed.

 

 

David Wright lives and writes in Champaign, IL.

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