I’ve seen his sort,

A dumb antelope taught to dance

Down field,

With arms out for the crowd,

While I grappled and grunted

At the line of scrimmage.


Walking into the lobby, I thought

I had him easy.

With his nose up and those brown eyes

Staring past unfocused, he was

Sure to be caught unaware.


But as I swung the stick from behind my back,

There was his own,

Held high in both hands

To block the strike I wasn’t

Ready to make.


Still I thought I had him.

Leaping the counter, I backed him

Into a corner

And bared my teeth to grin.

For a moment he lulled me

With hesitation- his feigned

Submission made me believe

His fear-

Although a coward never moved so slowly

In lowering the stick he held.


He dropped his to lunge at mine,

I was ready this time,


Letting his leap become his fall.


I kicked and kicked

Those long stupid legs,

Wanting him down for good,

But that wide hand held my stick

As if it knew nothing else.


When he rose

It was he who had me.

A grab for his crotch

Was blocked. My teeth, in the hard skin

Of his shoulder, went unnoticed.

Another bite, so deep in fury, I was sure

I’d find the bone

Cracking like a drumstick against my tongue.

Yet he held me still, pinned

On the wall.

Only the third rang to awaken him,

And as if he had contemplated

Measure for measure,

His free fist

Hammered my face three times in kind.


One more bite broke the cage he had become,

But I wasn’t free-

I was an animal with his claws caught,

Pulled screaming in the ride,

As he ran me into counter, into wall,

Into machine and desk.


Then he turned to run on his own,

His weak legs pumping for the door,

No antelope at all,

Just a thing passive and forgiving,

Who had me but couldn’t finish me.


I escaped the sirens and light

He brought, I escaped

With the promise to return,

I’m going to kill him, but not for

The ache still inside

Or the cash I sought

Forever locked against me,

Or even this new lump which twists my nose,

I will kill him

For the safe place he ran to

Before our business was done.

A place I’ve never had.