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by Bob Rice


At the party the conversation

among the men turned to boxing

and in particular a fight most had seen

in which one fighter

after each round staggered,

battered, bleeding,

to his corner, collapsed

as the cut-man staunched the blood,

and at the bell

got him to his feet, pushed

him to the center, shouting,

"Go low! Guard up!"

which, at the first punch, the fighter

forgot, until at last the bell rang

for round twelve or thirteen, and he stayed

slumped on the stool, one eye swollen

shut, raised his head to stare

beyond the lights, sensing perhaps

life outside the ring, and said simply,

"No más."


As we paused to reflect

on his cowardice, a woman

across the room, having had

a few past a few

too many, blurted, "I've lived

eighty-six lives and remember

most of them," which brought

both conversations to a standstill.

"If I thought it would do any good,"

she said, "I'd kill myself