A bright & cloudless day in LA
the sun is sleek & leaves no shadow.
Everywhere it is still—quiet—heat vapors
rise along streets & sewers & cement benches.
8 to 5’ers are pulling into parking places shaped like coffins–
ready to deal with life as seen on the computer screen.
Their dead lips rehearse words from a list of
politically correct things they have been taught to say.
Slowly they are dying. . .
Across Washington Boulevard sits the
Los Angeles Boxing Club.
Young men from Mexico & other Americas
arrive on foot, bicycle, or by bus.
They care nothing for political correctness.
They are here to live. . .or die.
Here to practice assassination.
Eyes smoldering with eternal resentment,
they strike the speed bag as if it was injustice itself,
they practice footwork, as if they will dance forever.
They slug it out with each other.
Sparring & sweating.
Some missing teeth & hearing
sometimes sense itself.
The cost does not matter.
They must have a dream that promises a way out. . .
out of downtown, out of their cheap room
out of a view of the alley,
out from under peeling yellow wallpaper
out from behind drill presses,
out from bending in the picking fields
out of their distant homes of burning poverty.
Rings at the Boxing Club have roped-boundaries,
but fighters’ dreams have none.
Like matadors or cliff divers,
they see this as their only way out:
grunting, sweating, elbowing & clenching
faces swollen & bloodied
they stagger toward a distant PRIZE
in a land called America.
Even though fate has already spoken.
Even though the die is cast.
Even though the odds are a million to one.
Most battle with hearts full. . .most leave
with dreams broken.
Still they come for that chance
always a new crop, proud & brave,
believing in miracles.