Carl Wade Thompson – Two Poems

poetCarl Wade Thompson is a poet and the graduate programs writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. His work has been published in The Concho River Review, The Eunoia Review, Anak Sastra, The Mayo Review, andLabor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas.

Punch Drunk

It is hard,
waking in the morning
without wanting to die.
Each day a struggle,
forgetting is the easy part.
Once, I contended,
fought for the belt.
Always too far,
in reach, but out of grasp.
The gold, always the gold,
can’t remember why it mattered.
So hard lately, lose myself,
focus on eating, fork to mouth,
my hands tremble, slow motion.
Sometimes, I forget I’m eating.
I wear diapers now.
A child, I piss my pants,
don’t even know I’m doing it.
But I used to be more,
so much more.
Fleet footed, turn on dime,
my hands fast dynamite.
All gone, gone far away.
But my hands, they still work,
still can throw punches,
jab, right, hook, uppercut.
I can do them in my sleep.
It’s in my muscles, my bones.
Reflexes shot, feel so weak,
but my hands still remember.
Boxing was my life.
Now, my wife dresses me.


My life’s been in the ring,
since I was a boy.
Grew up wanting to be Ali,
champion of the world.
Started boxing at twelve,
golden gloves all the way.
Old enough to vote,
took off the pads.
A pro, I learned of pain.
Every morning—-roadwork.
Get up at four for a jog.
In the gym before nine,
jump rope, punching bags,
the tools of the trade—
morning passes by.
Been in fifty fights—
mostly wins,
fans only remember the losses.
Each bout I come to fight,
gatekeeper for the champ.
Haven’t won a title,
the day may never come.
But I know I fight hard,
the sport’s all I got.
To be a boxer,
know that name,
identify as tough,
makes it all worth while.
Might end up punchy in the end,
something I’m willing to do.
Know I gave all I had,
Kids will know Dad’s tough.
And that means something—




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