Richard Jones ~ Two Poems

Boxing in a Backyard Ring on a Summer Night

Beckett is younger, the far supe­ri­or fight­er with
every advan­tage in skill, tim­ing, and technique.
A brick­lay­er by trade, his gloved fists are stones,
and his hard, sol­id punch­es rock me on my heels.
Sometimes a blow is con­cus­sive, as if some brute
had bashed me in the head with a small boulder.
Then the world goes away; when it comes back,
I have no idea where I am. I stand inside my skull.
It’s like stand­ing in a mar­ble dome or a cathedral.
When I retreat to my cor­ner, I sit on a lit­tle stool,
where my imag­i­nary train­er throws water on my face
and my imag­i­nary man­ag­er screams, “Cross his right!
Circle to the left! Stay away from his jab!” Reeling,
I spit blood in a buck­et, and con­sid­er the rivalry,
the way that he’ll always be there wait­ing for me,
his fists raised, nev­er back­ing away, mov­ing forward,
the desire to knock a man unconscious.



I dress my moth­er matter-of-factly.
She sits on the side of her bed,
I lift off her blue nightgown
and replace her underpants
with fresh ones. I pull around her
a cream-col­ored bra, then a white blouse
with a col­lar. I roll her knee socks up her legs
and then pull onto her the smart black slacks
she still loves. I put on her left ten­nis shoe first,
then her right, and dou­ble-knot them.
I bring a navy sweater over her head,
and arrange it, pulling the shirt collar
through the V‑neck so she looks put together.
I comb her white hair with a brush as gen­tly as I can,
with­out hur­ry­ing, before I touch her lips
with the lip­stick she’s worn forever—a Revlon
col­or that makes her pale, wan skin glow
and is apt­ly named Cherries in the Snow.
When we’re all done, I offer her my arm
and hand her the cane. I say, “Let’s go, Beautiful,”
then I escort her to the kitchen where
we drink cof­fee togeth­er, looking
out the win­dow with­out say­ing a word
to one anoth­er, but we’re happy,
if “hap­py” is the word for the way this feels.


Richard Jones’s most recent books of poems are Stranger on Earth (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Avalon (Green Linden Press, 2020). The edi­tor of the lit­er­ary jour­nal Poetry East, he will cel­e­brate forty years of pub­lish­ing with Poetry East #100, a vol­ume called “The Bliss of Reading.” Reach him at