“Coldcocked” by Stuart Stromin

I have two brothers,
one is a big, lusty fellow with an appetite,
the other, quiet, absolute, a teetotaler,
who comes out for a Coke so that he can drive us home.

One January night, in a bar, drunk,
picking scraps of trivia from a fishbowl,
like a magnet on a string dangled
over metal paper clips,
we brawled about nothing,
and the big, warm brother
clocked me cold on the jaw,
and sent me flying across the room
like stuntmen in the movies.

I remember getting to my feet,
rubbing my chin, and laughing,
before the younger one thrust himself between us
and carted us to bed.

That’s how it feels sometimes,
the punch
the punch that knocks
you off your feet, and clear
across the bar.
and you stand up, and count your teeth
and laugh because you got blindsided.

And when life hits
and winds you,
you know there is another haymaker
coming
because the universe kicks you
when you are down.

The second blow is not a shock.
It comes at you in slow motion.
You feel how much it is about to hurt
before it strikes you
but there is nothing you can do
to stop it.
You are on the ropes.

You are just going to keep
getting pummeled
and getting up
because you are Sisyphus
because you are Rocky
because you have no other choice.

If it helps,
remember how the cold starry night
revived us
and the soft snow sobered us up,
and brother to brother
we put our arms around each other
when life was as sweet as the mountain air.


Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 1.23.15 PMStuart Stromin is a South African-born writer and filmmaker, living in Los Angeles. He was educated at Rhodes University, South Africa, the Alliance Francaise de Paris, and UCLA. His work has appeared in Sheila-na-gig online, River River, Dissident Voices, Immigrant Report, Rigorous, etc.   stuartstromin.wordpress.com