The Pacifist Boxer Enters the Gym
Waits for the bell
and when it rings
he’s turning cheek after cheek,
fast as a Savior,
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.