At ringside, leather against his kidneys

sounds more explosive than on the big screen,

than the crack of the hook that stops the match,

that compresses the face of the blond Adonis

in the splatter of spit, snot and bloody slush,

a blow as solid as the last dull thud of an ax

just before a tree wavers and begins

its slow motion fall, the same slanted crash

of an overbuilt man whose hard collection

of muscle and skull booms and bounces

on and off the canvas to a familiar chant

of “Glass jaw! Glass jaw!” he doesn’t hear,

eyeballs rolled back until smelling salts

wake him to the frantic voice of an angry wife

below the ropes, shouting, “Get up, get up,

get up, goddammit, get up, get up…”

but he can’t, can’t move, can’t think, the next

heavyweight contender has again failed his fans,

and his trainer can only stand with an open mouth,

a water bottle, a wet rag, and turn away

from eager sportswriters typing the story

of a promising young fighter who will live

as a single man in his younger brother’s house,

forgetful at 33, spoon-fed at 37, dead at 39,

in a fight that never won a prize