Black eyes were easy,
it was the running and jumping
rope that kept me from being a contender.
Breathless and stupid, holding myself up
after the local champ’s body shot
stole every gasp in the room—the roundhouse
kick that turned my nose permanently to the left.
For two weeks, I smiled brightly through the shiner
that tagged along. But put me on roadwork
and there better be cops and dogs
giving chase. Once I woke face
down on the canvas, outclassed by a much leaner
man, and realized this isn’t where you win fights.
Jumped to my feet as I remember, bobbing
and weaving. But when I watched the tape,
before the ref stopped it, I was the perfect
picture of a handful of leaves in gust of wind
just waiting to fall.