Fighter Man

We were such good friends, all of us
after that first shaky drink
Even her fake jewelry was expensive
Before 4 a.m. and the birds
prescient and exotic sing, screech to him special
Not a gracious winner and an awful loser
he sleeps best when a hard rain pings

Hey pop, got a cookie?
A tough kid, very tough—he fell in love
A rigid adherence to discipline, swagger, routine
led him to some success
You can make it up as you go along
when you know what you’re doing
He knew all about winning, damaged and dangerous

He was a large man later
with a big belly and a head like a melon
That was before she met the man
who was far too clever for her
They called him the “Scotch Wop Dundee”
a great fighter, one of the best
But the more they fight the stupider they get

I had no ambitions then, no fantasies
no idea what the hell to do
These old men knew a lot about it—they
nursed their 10 cent beers, chewed their 10 day old cigars,
sipped coffee all day long in the cafeteria
Bad English, bad German, bad French
Some stuff happened, a few doors opened, I got into it

In this place romantic love hardly lasts—
doesn’t stand a chance, not really
He wasn’t ebullient, outgoing or simple
He tried, sometimes, to take his big wins in stride
I started to draw his face, this superman, and ended
up with a green pineapple that tilted rightward
with butterscotch tic tac toe squares for skin

Truly mad, don’t doubt me, I really mean crazy
but too wealthy, at the time, to be lawfully constrained
That glad hander, that drunk, that fabulous ruin had goodness
He identified always, with the feeble and the friendless
Her betrayals, he thinks, are a despicable,
if an inevitable, element in his blood-torn life,
but he’d never embarrass her like that again, if he could help it

He takes these lies, these disguises so seriously
Well there honey, you’d better find someone else
to give you money in a pinch
Neither of us talks too much together
and we never much learned to forgive
She wants to be there for you she told me,
Yes, that’s what she always says, he said


-April 8, 2012-