For Abe

I met Abe Simon,

A retired Jewish boxer,

When I was eleven.


At my father’s request

Abe agreed to teach me how to box

So I wouldn’t be bullied.


Abe was a cinderblock of a man,

His arms and the back of his giant hands         

Covered with dark hair.


A time and place was set

For Abe and me in the basement of our house,

Ringed by a washing machine, a freezer

And a ping pong table.


Word had gotten out,

And the neighborhood kids

Lined up outside the basement windows

To watch me flail at Abe’s hands


Abe was matter of fact.

I was mortified and determined.

A little nervous at what would happen

When Abe was gone.


Abe lost two championship fights

With Joe Louis in the forties.

He weighed in at 255, Louis at 207.


On film it was clear that Louis was faster and more skilled.

But Abe, looking as large and strong as I remember,

Didn’t back down, not for a second.


October, 2018

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