All You’d Done
Noise spills off the canvas, sucking you
into the smoke-covered crowd, cigars
upturned and teeth-clinched, as the two fighters
will be in moments if gray-trunks doesn’t
go down. The man seen between black-trunks’ legs
bellows on the far side of the ring, fingers
extending claws, a jubilant fat cat.
But it’s you the artist’s after, you who’ve found
yourself in the second row on the near side
where the press take notes, sweat and spit
landing on their pads, sometimes blood. You,
inches behind the high rollers, bagmen,
and gents in boiled shirts. You can see the mat
bounce up and down with every hook and jab;
you could reach out and touch it if you wished.
Each fist’s thud transcends the noisy mob.
The man just in front of the ring, dead center,
shares for you alone a delighted smirk--
girlish, swollen lips under haze-squinted eyes.
All you’d done was stroll by the scene
when this tempter-devil gave you his leer.
J. Stephen Rhodes
Poems by J. Stephen Rhodes have appeared in over fifty literary journals, including Shenandoah, Tar River Poetry, and Texas Review, as well as several international reviews. Wind Publications has published his two poetry collections, The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next (2008) and What Might Not Be (2014). He has won a number of literary awards including two fellowships from the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences, selection as a reader for the Kentucky Great Writers Series. Most recently, he won First Prize in Still: The Journal’s annual poetry contest. He holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine-Stonecoast and a Ph.D. from Emory University
The Ekphrastic Review
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