BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
A trained; composed; skilled fist
can strike out at an opponent for only so long
before it connects directly into the hearts of loved ones closest.
A pugilistic dementia reaction of habit
with a system in slow motion.
Done by thirty-three
and bitter about it.
What could have been!
Not a single promise kept.
Golden gloves trophies, colorless ribbons
and lost timelines…
next to a stack of unopened mail;
forgotten for months.
Bloodstains on a battle tested brain.
fed back to the cruel streets unwanted and
left to cope alone
with predictable failure lying await in ambush
ticking like a time bomb inside of himself.
Whether it be nerve-damaged ticks
violent, abrupt outbursts
fists through framed family photos
or bottom shelf tequila—
this man is but a trapped, wounded hero
with torn pride inside.
A sad baggage to heave around
with nowhere to put it,
nor knowledge of how to.
The Retired Journeyman will be remembered
as the portrayal of a man that left his mark
as the loser of boxing matches
by those of us who lived through his losses
and have scorned his name because of them.
But let us take a moment to allot compassion for him
because to remember his name
is to know the unparalleled and oft-misguided courage it takes
to climb through the ropes, and into the ring
with nothing left.
For every champion, they must first meet The Journeyman…
who’s scarred face serves its purpose
and with every punch it receives, it
only serves as a detriment to this man’s health
and further distances him, from him.
Woe to The Journeyman—
a hollow young man
with only directionless; puzzled memories of combat
left on his head.
Bereft of family or friends
sitting quietly in his lonely squat—
uninvited, yet familiar company is kept
and can always be found seated in an opposing corner of the house
in a dimly lit smoker
waiting for the bell to ring
in The retired Journeyman’s