The world will break your heart, with or without your help,
but drunks and fighters like to give it a hand now and then.
I was both at the same time, a bad mix.
Men drink for many reasons, fight for many reasons.
I come from a poor, ridiculous family. I had my reasons.
Started fighting on the carnivals, in them old carnival days.
Drank and fought my way to a title, then it all went to shit.
My career so solar: rising in beauty, setting like a smear of blood.
Basilio wasn’t even in my class. He was a goddamn bum.
But I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, plus all them women.
One thing I know, down in my knuckle-bones,
down in my poor, ridiculous soul:
if I’d been sober,
God Himself couldn’t have helped all them bastards.
Will Stenberg is a poet, screenwriter, and bartender. He grew up in the redwood forests of the Northern California coast and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. The poems excerpted here are pulled from a full-length manuscript entitled No Comebacks, inspired by Peter Heller’s seminal work of boxing history In This Corner…! Will boxes recreationally and writes and records music under his own name.