THE MAIN EVENT
If you've ever seen Rocky, you'll know
what a pile of student papers does
to the psyche. Piled manila folders,
each with its own jutting tab
displaying a name. They don't strike
in a bludgeoning fury, a looping hook,
a compact, straight right to the chin,
not like Tyson or Foreman. Each feels
flipped out into the face, like those jabs
flashed out of Creed's arm, a constant mash
of fist and fitted glove to eyes, lips, nose,
or even past the exterior, in the skull,
jostling the brain's spongy pink. A reminder,
like dripped plinks from a faucet, a valve
you can't turn off.
My trainer wrapped my hands though, with benchmarks
and a rubric, hanged a grammar speed bag
in my office, drafted other TAs
for calibration spars. These documents drop
by attrition, pummel a gradual slouch
over the desk, a loosening of the pencil
from its primed, cocked position in the thumb's bend.
Seasoned fighters will tell you—how to go
not fifteen rounds, but forty-four,
thirty minutes each. They'll suggest
you use the ropes: Save the A students for last.
Sometimes I wish I could stumble
into my corner, flop down
on a stool, towel around my neck
to soak up the blood, the sweat, the ink,
my critical eye swollen shut. With luck,
Mick will be there, razor blade in hand.
He'll draw a horizontal grade
across my lid, fluid draining down my face,
and I'll see, I'll stand again.
Composed on a half-remembered night
While combatting the dark of an instructor's fright.
Oil on Canvas - Date Unknown