Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Look of a Face in a Fight

I am the teacher of athletes,
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

Leaves of Grass (1855), Walt Whitman

The look of a face in a fight: intelligence transmuting
fear – seared with such elegant purpose it’s hard
to adhere to the notion that violence is its entire agenda:
a choir of violins ought to ensue!: and a poem or two –
but no, like a drug in a thug this intensity mixes its fists

in a tumult of rutting testosterone, sucked-up adrenaline,
breeding destruction; a bravery not towards the liberal
flight of a soul, which occasional flickers of light in those
eyes seem for moments to want to ignite and make
whole, but a rashness intending to bleed. This renders

exotic, erotic distractions – but where is the last golden
gratification – attraction beyond all the shedding of blood –
symbolically spilling the seed? Today I decided to read
“Leaves of Grass” – Whitman could help me: I’d maunder
and loafe with him – get some unrhymed smoky toke

from his lips – secondhand from his tender relentlessness:
launder the prettiness out: help me pack sweet enigma
back into the punch. And oh! – speculating poet! – smiling
survivor of the fall! The look of your face in the fight
breeds my hunch that we’re none of us in one at all.


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