Feb 152013

by Steve De France


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.