It was the fifth round of an uneasy fight and I was getting mauled by a welter weight in red tasseled shoes. He was an up and comer. Potential top ten. Maybe even champ someday. He had good hand speed. Good timing, too. Good at everything in the ring, including humiliating an old tomato can like me.
The ref didn't like me much, but that was well known. He didn't like me for what I had become. He knew me years ago as a hardscrabble fighter every bit as good as this Menendez hombre, maybe without the flash. Just a young poor kid known as the prototypical "Irish Bomber". I had a wide grin. I had a mean right uppercut. One night I dispatched a man to a lowly hospital to get a swelled brain checked out.
The ref had lost his son in some useless war, so he ended up loving and hating young people. Loved the ones who wanted to live up to their potential. Hated the ones who squandered their talent. In his eyes I was the later. There were the all night parties. The training sessions with booze and long legged dames. Then came the fixed fights to mollify mad mobsters in homburg hats with smuggled Cubans hanging out of the side of their mouths, their expensive tobacco burning up my life.
"You could of been something, Shipman." The ref says to me after he lets Menendez nearly bust another one of my ribs.
The round ended and the ref followed me to my corner. I could hear him through my bloody ears. See him through my puffed up eyes. I could feel his hurtful, truthful words pierce my armoured heart. "You're thirty-eight now, Shipman. You coulda been top ten. This is your last fight. You're bad even for a tomato can. After this fight you're gonna wish you were in hell. Because you ain't worth a puddle of bloody spit. Try tellin' otherwise to some boss."
My corner men dropped spongy water on my face and pressed my forehead with Endswell. I sat on the stool and looked at the ceiling lights through a haze of smoke. I knew these corner guys didn't give a damn about me. Their banter of jabs and leg work and using my big punch made me feel more hopeless than I'd ever felt. I could see Menendez the young bull in the opposite corner. His easy smile. His breathing unlaboured. He nodded his head menacingly. I knew he was blind to my past, maybe blind to his future. I wasn't quite ready to be his righteous kill.
Round six was about to begin. "I ain't callin' no TKO," the ref says. "Either they take you out on your back or you throw in the towel like a yellow loser."
The bell rang and Menendez moves in on me. He bulls me against the ropes and lays punch after punch on my body covered up with my forearms. But I feel his punches slowing down, his arms tiring. Somehow I break to the centre of the ring.
He makes another run, but providence came my way. The young welter weight slips forward on a patch of sweaty canvas. With his arms wide apart, his head bowed, I hit him with an uppercut that lifts him off his feet. He lands stone cold on the mat.
The crowd erupts, men go wild in rage. I was lucky to make it out alive. The only calm I saw was in a man in a homburg hat, his face unmoved. Then I knew what I should have known all along, that Menendez was one of their boys.
That evening I sat alone in a half-filled bar called the One Lucky. I drank cold beer through swollen lips when a radio announcer says the boxer Menendez dies, a brain hemorrhage kills him. An old journeymen fighter by the name of Shipman was his opponent.
Everybody in the bar knew what to do. The customers drank up their last drink fast, and rustled out into the night air. A lone bartender stayed behind, whistling plaintively as he polished shot glasses and washed out ash trays.
I asked for another beer. The bartender nodded and said quietly its on the house. I sat and waited for what I knew was coming. I hoped it would happen in a flash. Painless, in a back alley. But their are those who say I deserved worse. And that's what I got, a shiv just beneath my heart. My spirit now mixed with the hazy smoke that's a club fighter's dream.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I've been called names in darkened alleys, men hiding in the shadows of the night. I've had lights shined on my spirit to expose the pain that rubs against my soul. Sometimes I blog in darkness, all but an illusion of hope alighting these rhyming hands.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Dial-a-Bottle drunk...a delivery man walks up wooden stairs. Jim Beam in brown bag; coin falls from shaky hand. Who's left behind? Dark apartment, life inside as empty as a bottle. Government man, besotted, sorrowful, drowns in sightless pain, the torpor of an intoxicated dream. Who do you leave behind, Delivery man? Delivery boy. Work your way through college, minimum wage, gratuity from impaired souls. Lonely. Angry. Middle age hurt. Ahh, but in contrast you sail through life. A joke or two to share with callow friends. But a secret deep inside is for you to despair. What of me in many years? Wooden stairs? Darkened apartment? Father drops coin from shaky hand? Dial-a-Bottle drunk calls a name.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I live by my wits. I spit n' shine my shoes. I stroll alone along a sandy shore, biding time with a spirited God. I watch the life of the party, almost touched by the dead inside. I am what I am. I live by my wits in shiny shoes, writing only this yellow blog.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I want to play with a full moon. To leave the oceans and seas behind. To hold it from a night sky and spin it gleefully on my fingertips. Bounce it madly on a hardwood floor. And when the play is done, to return it to where it once was--in an imaginary universe I know so well.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I've got a healthy heart in a fatty city of dying men. I live among rotund wastrels; the round waisted with deadliness in cheeseburger-eyes. Bacon tongues, slithering along juicy lips. Ham fists with curled up fingers as thick as sausages, hopelessness dipped in the brine of shortened days. Sometimes they kill. Lettuce lovers. Organic pamphleteers in hemp designs foisted against their fork and knife ways. I've got a healthy heart in a fatty city of dying men. But sometimes I crave the fat of the land, the wanton indulgence of gourmand men in wastrel waists of sausages and curled up dreams.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Indian dancer. Ankle-bell sounds. Swing to the raga, the sitar, the fast beat of the tabla drum. Calloused feet on callous earth. Ginsberg spirit, Kerouac lament. Peace, love, guru burp, bodily function: Shiva God of well placed arm. Indian dancer, ankle bell sounds, waltz the world away. Jitterbug to the singing raga, the fast beat of a tabla drum. Calcutta the rug in Mumbai pose, a blog of nonsense. Jingle-jangle. All Night Delhi sandwich of cumin between turmeric clothes.
Monday, January 18, 2010
It happens everywhere. This moral turpitude. This moral rectitude. The certitude and certainty. It happens everywhere, all the time. Sometimes in the same breath. Sometimes in a word. Sometimes in a blogger's post. Always in the things we leave behind.
I've had shoes resoled on a Tokyo street. I've carried a mattress through a London square. I've been lost and found on a New York subway, sparks flying underground. Now I find myself in an airless cubicle. A fluorescent light blinds me, but in the darkness I see clearest: Tokyo, London, New York. I see youth again. To live those days once more. How? That spark of life.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I've been horsewhipped and hogtied and frog marched out of the best prisons justice can ignore. I've been learned at the school of hard knocks. I've read dogeared encyclopedias. The pages torn by desperate madmen; their trembling voices pleading to the electric ears of Ole' Sparky. I've heard dead men walking, sentenced to a Square Corner: each day handcuffed to a golden blog.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
You put on a brave face, like your tough to the world. You, the tattooed lady. But inside you're like chocolate syrup. You're saccharin. You're treacly. You cry at the sounds of Windham Hill. The ink on your arms run like colourful teardrops onto a marshmallow floor.
Fight like a strangling octopus; armbar hold on an ocean floor. MMA Undersea. 1000 leagues. 2000 leagues. A school of fish watch. Shark skin fighters surrounded in octagon coral. Clouds of blood and salty sand. Cheer! Cheer! Floating corpuscles to the human shore.
I saw in a mirror bags under macabre eyes like Boris Karloff. My face had grown into a monster's mask--sharp teeth, frazzled hair, maniacal look with the stare of deadly rampage. Oh, save me from what is inside of me. From what I've never been. Maybe it is a dream. Defective reflection from far away. Monster in the mirror say I am fairest of them all. Despair of me no more.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Everyone is a story. You see it in their eyes. Hear it in their voice. A word uttered in a rumour. A sentence read in an old letter. A chapter ended in lost tears. Everyone is a story. And every city has a tale. Every blogger knows this, or he wouldn't blog at all.
I have a pain in my stomach, a hurt deep in my gut. My doctor has got no cure, because I got no disease, so he says. But the pain will always stay, so I think. A friend says I need to assess the situation I'm in. Maybe to run far, far away. Start anew, set down roots on a sunny and curative shore. See if life's wounds heal on another day. Things to decide, and to ask a doctor if he needs the same.
I've got a clutter of memories in an old drawer. Photographs and postcards, letters in longhand and typewriter sounds. Far away. Points in time. Shrouded in spider's web, covered in decades unholy dust. Someday I'll bring all that was me to a new order: sorted and stacked, those recollections. And with steely eye edit bad from the good. Pixels of time. Sanitize memories in computer scan and then off to hard drive, found and hidden with mouse's click. Better, I think, to leave things as they were always meant to be: this rendezvous with the past. Leave the spider's tale in peace. Leave me to be what I am.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I'm a writer. I'm a fighter. I'm a blogger, too. I box slippery words in a Square Corner. Early morning my legs make lonely road work on run-on sentence, endless to the page. My semi-colon fists pound purple prose like heavy bags. I'm a writer. I'm a fighter. I blog with speedy hands and dancing leg work. I knock out posts one round to the bell. Champ I'll be, someday. Somewhere I'll hold a blog spot above my proud head, and say to the typesetter's world: I need a cut man no more. End Swell never to touch my lathered skin. I'm a blogger, I can be what I want to be. A champ, a chump, a humpback whale, king of the world in a Square Corner. Say bye-bye, to beguiling editor sitting cross legged on a red stool.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I've done many bad things. Broken a few hearts. Dropped Waterford Crystal just to see it crash. I've done many bad things to myself. Spoken against my basic needs. Stepped on Bulova watches just to see springs cry. But I got a scratchy blog and old vinyl records, so all is not a waste.
Sixty years in the Stir. Sixty years in the Big House. Sixty years singing Stephen Foster fables in a Sing-Sing cell. Six by Six solitary heart, teeming soul strikes again. A man, a bespectacled guard shived beneath his prison vein. Sixty years, released. Old, harmless, sent weary to rooming house bed. Sits and waits. Knife blade across shriveled, tattooed skin. Sixty years in prison better. Cigar-chomping, pork-bellied parole officer, sixty seconds to die.