“The Wall” By Miller Oberman (2014)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Winner (2014)

Once, drunk, and having just
avoided a fight,
the two walked outside
from the dark dive
smelling thrillingly of sour
beer and sweat and clapping
the blue pool chalk
from their hands, they,
coming to a boarded up
construction site,
made fists, their hair
stuck up stiff with grease
and punched the wall
as hard as they could.

The wall did nothing.
The wall did not respond
or retaliate, except if you
consider its lack of splintering
a kind of taunt.

He thought his knuckle
would be tender forever.
Though the green skin faded,
the bone bruise remained
and finally leached away, unnoticed.
It was ten lifetimes
later, he realized his friend
was gone and his knuckle
was also left lonesome
for that longtime buddy,
pain.

This poem first appeared in the 2014 edition of LRR.

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