image borrowed from bing
Bruno started boxing
when he was eight years old,
the red leather gloves huge on his small fists,
and he loved it.
with the speed bag by the door.
his head barely touching its midriff.
He had to stand on an apple box
to swat the speedo,
slapping it into a blur,
fast and hard, nearly
tearing it off its springs.
He and the big bag became intimate,
his jabs snapping sharp into the sweaty folds
of the faceless porous partner,
his uppercuts pummeling every stitch,
smacking the stuffing loudly, thudding
as his terrible right and left hooks
tore at the texture of bag and glove,
training like his life depended on it,
night and day the grunting
and pounding rang out clarion
from the rough hewn garage gym.
Then his father bought him
some free weights,
a sit up board and press bench.
The young man’s muscles rippled with joy,
growing, thickening, pumping up.
becoming a strong light heavy,
battling his way up through the rings at
the Boys Club, YMCA, high school, then college.
He fought like a physicist,
never with blood lust,
mostly knocking his opponents down
and winning by points,
but several times the adversaries
stayed down for the knockout call
rather than face his fists again;
but he was proud to be a boxer,
not a mauler,
not a braggart,
never arrogant or mean;
he did not hate the men he faced,
he just loved to box;
there were a few times he fought to a draw
hardly recognizing his own swollen features
in the mirror the next morning.
He really only lost once,
to a Hispanic
who failed to acknowledge pain,
who fought in the streets daily
somehow this had enraged Bruno
and he had unleashed punches
that broke ribs and bruised bone,
leaving the other man covered in blood,
yet the fighter battled like a bull dog
and refused to go down,
winning by points.
Bruno never was the same after that,
as the youthful joy was replaced
with sadness, and the mindless behemoths
he faced began to break apart his dreams,
punching beyond his body, injuring his soul,
until he rose one hot August morning
and he embraced his epiphany,
listening at last to his higher self:
“Fight no more forever, for you are worthy of something finer.”
Somehow he found the strength to walk away,
setting aside who he had been,
putting away his gloves, trophies, headgear,
allowing the rope burns to heal,
saying adieu to the ring, to the crowds,
letting the heavy bag hang dry, kissed by dust,
forcing the speed bag into silence,
as he unclenched his fists
and became a scholar, a lover, a poet
and a father himself, who only pulled
out his scrapbook of press clippings
when begged to do so by his three sons.
Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB
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