Poetry

In the Face, Hard

In the Face, Hard

A child kneels beside a “dead” bee.

(Stinging black-and-gold soldier,
where’s your buzzing bluster now?)
Jab!–boxing glove in the face, hard.

A woman bends to change the diaper
on her newborn son. Whizz!–
liquid boxing glove in the face, hard!
And before that, when, wife-to-be,

she showed her “diamond” to a friend’s
jeweler brother-in-law. Prump!–
on a spring stashed behind a trap door:
boxing glove in the face, very hard.

The asthmatic sniffs a perfect purple
rose; the fisherman lifts–out
of season, right under a warden’s nose–
a red, green, gold, and silver trout;

the widow spades her spore-filled soil;
the child lowers his head to cuddle
Tuffy the pit bull … Boxing glove
in the face, extremely hard!

This is why the baby howls and bites
the breast. This is why the old ones
rest in wheelchairs, staring into space,
terror on each toothless, smashed-in face.

Charles Harper Webb‘s latest book, Shadow Ball: New & Selected Poems, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in Fall 2009. What Things Are Made Of, also from Pitt, is forthcoming in 2012. A recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb directs Creative Writing at California State University, Long Beach.

*Photo courtesy of KWDesigns.