War Without a Winter Coat | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

War Without a Winter Coat

A poem by Jimmy Cvetic


Iran shot at a US drone
Which was flying over neutral water. 
Some say it's an act of war,
I don't know. 
Jake came to the gym last night
And worked hard
Footwork and more footwork
And hit the pads
And I told him he has to study hard 
And learn to count
Because he has to learn to count his money
Because if he didn't learn, someone will count his money for him.
And he did fifty push-ups
And he did pull-ups till his arms could not lift his body above the bar
And he fell to the floor.
And I told him, "Get up. Champions don't lay on the floor."
I watched how he pulled himself up,
And I told him, "Last round go dance in the ring."
I watched as he climbed between the ropes
And he floated around the ring
And I told him, "Move like Ali, float
And sting."
He moved as if he was walking on rice paper
Gliding and magic and all of the dreams of so many before him
Sugar and Pepp
And Louis and Grebb and Conn
And Hagler and Rocky
And Duran and Hearns and
Always the lights and
Always the dreams.
I asked him, "How's your mom?"
He told me, "She in the hospital and I'm going to see her tomorrow.'"
"What's wrong?"
He said, "I don't know."
"Where you living?"
He said, "With my uncle."
"I thought you was staying with your grandmother."
He said, "She's in a rehab."
I asked, "Your grandmother's on drugs?"
I asked, "You have enough to eat?"
"Yeah, I'm eating all right."
I waited at the top of the steps and shut off
The lights of the gym.
"Where's your coat?"
Jake said, "When my mom gets out the hospital, 
She's going to buy me one."
I asked, "You need a ride?"
He said, "No, I got a bus pass."
I said, "See you tomorrow, champ."
I watched as Jake walked with his boxing shoes hung
Over his back and I felt so helpless
Like when you're knocked down and can hear
The ref counting ... six ... seven ... eight ...
And I want so badly for Jake to beat the count
And I can hear a drone circling and crying out
It's an act of war ...
And I felt the cold November wind cutting across
The dark streets of Pittsburgh

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
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Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith