Here where everyone forgets everything,
including where they are
or what they are fighting to remember,

I can’t help recalling the childhood afternoon
that I was bloodied in a baseball game
by a kid who wanted to murder me,

and how my father, who was streetwise
to the world, a former Golden Gloves champ
in the lightweight division in west Chicago,

laced me into a pair of shiny red gloves
and then chalked a ring in our back yard,
shouting encouragement from the corner…

My old man taught me to raise my hands
and keep moving, to feint and weave,
to dance on the balls of my feet

and use my shoulders when I punched,
to stutter-step and lean, to jab hard
with my left, and hook with my right.

My father taught me never to be afraid
to fight, while I grunted and pranced
around our patio under the sweating lights,

bounding off the imaginary ropes
to defend myself, tasting my own blood,
shadowboxing an invisible enemy.