The Boxer Fights a Tree in Early Morning Traffic
The vagrant moves with primate grace. He twists
his head; his arms inscribe parentheses
of impotence and failure. His hands make fists
to fight the unknown enemy, to choose
another fate. They say he was a boxer,
say those hands cracked every bone they faced,
at eighteen winning every match, cock-sure
as hurricanes in fall. He fell from grace
when he turned twenty-two. A private voice
salted his ear with secrets and with need,
cut him loose from competition, freed
his mind from fear, whispered a madman’s choice—
You’ve beaten every man— as it delivered
the tree to fight the boxer, lily-livered.
I’ve posted it here at PFFA, but made a couple of small but important changes since then.
Punctuation and grammar are fundamental to a poem.