Cold Water

Cold water on my bare feet.
You are like cold water.

All day I’ve watched the water
run from the tap, splash into the bushes
where the earth awaits it
and sucks it up

Cold water! the grass exclaims.


To a Fighter Killed in the Ring

In a gym in Spanish Harlem
boys with the eyes of starved leopards
flick jabs at your ghost
chained to a sandbag.
They smell in the air the brief truth of poverty
just as you once did:
"The weak don't get rich."

* * * * * * * * * *

You made good.
Probably you were a bastard,
dreaming of running men down in a Cadillac
and tearing blouses off women. 

And maybe in your dreams great black teeth
ran after you down deadend alleyways
and the walls of your room
seemed about to collapse,
bringing with them a sky of garbage
and your father's leather strap.
And you sat up afraid you were dying
just as you had so many nights as a child.

* * * * * * * * * *

Small bruises to the brain,
An accumulation
Of years of being hit.

I will not forget that picture of you
hanging over the ropes, eyes closed,
completely wiped out,
Like a voice lost in the racket
Of a subway train
Roaring on under the tenements of Harlem.