Three Poems by Nathan Dragon

Sorta Softly, Sweet Spot

Ex-boxer still goes to the gym. He’s got nothing else.
      Works out.
      Slowly and sorta softly.
      He hits the heavy bag in a mirror’s peripheral vision for twelve rounds.
      Three minutes each, thirty seconds of rest between.
      Punctuated with jump roping and being steady on the speed bag.
      Doesn’t know how healthy it is for his head, for him to keep coming every day. He keeps
his head down and just works out.

They said he looked like a young Marciano with a nose that was less flat and not as classic.

He hasn’t thought about being in a bad mood, until realizing now that he’s in one.
      And it’s familiar so it’s kind of nice.

He wonders why this doesn’t feel like a terrible thing—

      what it’s like to be lucky. A problem of seeing—as well as in the regurgitation
of the order of events.
      Beach mouth by round eight every time. That oceanic taste.
      This may come in handy.
      Swimming is good.

      Opens ya up they say.
      Don’t yearn to hate it.
      It never works at first and he doesn’t have any room to get further.
      He relies on memories of blowing off work to push himself through rounds eleven and twelve. Sometimes, it’d been fun.
      But imagine trying that today?
      He’s embarrassed for himself hypothetically. Already.

Things for him to be proud of: getting paid. It feels fucking good, man, to be this many years old.
      A serious question.
      A dead language.
      Laminate confusion.
      Slow endurance.
      Hummingbirds always make him happy. And there’s a dog pacing the wall.
      Gift trash in the alley.
      Packages stolen from porches. Bows and paper and birthday cards. The well wishes and torn cards strewn in a backwards kind of confetti, and the money collected to exchange later for the local taste.
      There are bronze statues of people in the park near the gym with no discernible
      characteristics, sitting or standing in solitude or with other bronze statues, all staring off somewhere.
      The ex-boxer catches his breath with them.
      A groundsman nurses two out of three bushes back to health. The third was already
healthy, planted by happenstance in a sweet spot.

Always Doing Secret Things

     Thinking he might’ve done something good.
      Just an unshaking life underneath a window, or before a window, said differently.
      In order to be some kind of good person, he brainstormed codes of conduct to stick to.
      To have a fighting chance at it.
      Hold the door without even looking.
      Keep the mailman company for a few houses.
      After several postponed hiatuses, habits he had a taste for were coming back but no one
else was thrilled.
      Always dammed up and convolved one step too far.
      Fog and love like dust kicked up at a rodeo.
      Always doing secret things.
      Fucked up and unfair comparisons.
      How Homeric…
      Good luck scaled to fit the given. Here.
      But never a real chance.
      When he was onced-over, people had enough, coupled with all they could take.
      Another way to assess the situation seemed important as a next direction. He’d been
getting pretty petty and getting it wrong. But he wanted something that he wasn’t sure he’d had in awhile and couldn’t remember what to call it.

      He had watched the dog discover its shadow in the dining room last week—the dog jumped. And when the dog found its shadow outside, too, the likeness blew its mind.

Close Enough Always

Things he can’t believe in.
     Things he might believe in.
     Fizzy water consistency. The bubbles in his cup always go up.

A good-looker leaning on a cow fence on the Oklahoma/Texas line.
      Minutiae and the mostly bumpy roads heading home. A ten month to-and-from.
      Cows staring at a bush under the silver weathervane in the forever heatwave. At least since the year he met a dog named Nibby in Truth or Consequences.

      Trying to know his place.
      Traveling west is going backwards and now that he’s covered some ground he’s a little younger now.

Dune eyes with a crossed walk when he gets out for a rest.
      News on the radio: “Elderly man survives on Coca Cola for 5 days after fall.”
      Sept 22-26 or maybe even longer.

      Something else about a dust silhouette appearing on someone’s wall and on their table; some gulf that is cleaner or unstained by the atmosphere, an empty space with a specific holy shape.
      A cult preoccupation.
The green tea of Half-a-Horseshoe lake on the way out, when at an age between things, they were asked to leave. Too ambiguous to understand and judge the liability of the situation without gathering any facts.

A literal dream of mesquite, the same one for weeks since he’d heard the legend.
      He let water drip onto his works when he got back in to take a peek.
      Oceanless beach.
      Close enough always, right? — it’s a good place to land.

Photographs taken. Sight confirmed, see, photo, print undoctored. Seven cats climbing screen doors in Oregon like beanstalk. He’d been in the wrong place the whole time, listening to someone in the next room figuring it out.
      And what they said’s been in the water all this time is finally affecting us.

Image: Boxers by Scott Sutherland / Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Nathan Dragon is from Salem, MA. He has work in NOON Annual, Hotel, Fence, New York Tyrant. He also co-runs a publishing project called Blue Arrangements.

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