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Lew Jenkins Lightweight Champion of the World

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.

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