sunshine bottles, changwon heat-lush and dry,
we leaned against nude cherry blossom trees,
boozed and bullshit late into afternoon.
Tom wanted to wrestle, just to see how it felt
to tangle with an american; the old
heat bellowed inside, said do it, do it,
don’t do it. said don’t do anything, said
rise and wreck him. i found my feet, wobbled,
said i’d go easy, then took him down twice,
let him up–he asked how it worked, how could
one man drop another man so quickly,
i showed him again the body’s desire
for ground, that its dumb weight craves falling.
he charged me, smiling, and i ducked his hard
shoulders to the dirt. the other guys watched,
smoked, laughed, downed beers, their bodies tucked in place.
changwon’s thin sun waned and we sat quiet,
dusted-up and panting, hungry for night’s
sturdy hand to smooth us out, guide our flesh
to the magnetic, solid earth it begged for.
BRENDAN WALSH has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work appears in Glass Poetry, Indianapolis Review, Baltimore Review, Wisconsin Review, American Literary Review, and other journals. He is the author of four books, including Go (Aldrich Press) and Buddha vs. Bonobo (Sutra Press).
Featured image: Thomas Anshutz, “Two Male Figures Wrestling,” charcoal on off-white laid paper, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1980, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.