Benny "Kid" Paret
(March 14, 1937 - April 3, 1962)
The Boxer on Canvas
The grinding of a beaver's teeth
back and forth over poplar.
You don't waken to blueberry pie,
huckleberries generously laced into it,
fresh vanilla ice cream on top.
No. A man is yelling from down
a narrow coal mine shift,
Seven... Eight... Nine... ,
and your knees won't listen,
your heart rushes blindly,
you don't care about wood smoke
from slash fires you loved as a boy.
You start to cry to your deaf
and dumb body about damned gravity,
but finally you smile at the people
who want you to be a vacant lot
strewn with busted glass.
This poem had Benny "Kid" Paret in mind, though it was predicated by the death of another fighter, whose name I cannot recall, in 1974. The poem first appeared in Poetry Now (Vol. III, Nos. 4-6 -issues 15-16-17-18), edited by E.V. Griffith.
The poem was also included in my 1978 chapbook, Poems to the Memory of Benny Kid Paret (Sparrow Press: Felix and Selma Stefanile, editors).