The words are harder to dodge
than his left hook would be:
Hit me, come on pussy, hit me!
Players at the other end of the court
stop dribbling & form a ring
around us.  I feel them throbbing,
hear the hissing of that frenzy
building that begs for blood
but I know how easily an elbow
fractures when you straighten
the arm by the wrist & apply
pressure to the leathery flesh
protecting the bone.  He leans in,
shoves me with his upturned
palms & I wonder if he knows
that his eyeballs are softer than
eggshells & that a finger jab could
make my face the last image
he’ll remember for months
while the gelatin that are his eyes
try to heal.  He says, Hit me!
What are you a coward?  You scared?
I whisper it & almost believe no one
hears it but they do & all goes quiet:
Yes, I’m afraidI’m afraid.
That moment when I must decide
to suffer or to cause suffering is quick.
I turn my head as he connects, my jaw
accepts his fist & I soften the blow,
& when I see my face in the fear on his
& when the weight of my knees pushes down
on his biceps & I cup his face with
my fingertips like it’s some thing I’ve created
& the spit is gone from my mouth
I am afraid, God help me, I am afraid.
Coward by Roberto Carlos Garcia

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Roberto Carlos Garcia's work has appeared in the Istanbul Literary Review, Poets & Artists Magazine, Metazen and The New Gnus Literary Review. Roberto is a member of the online writers community Fictionaut. A native New Yorker, he now lives and works in New Jersey where he is pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Poetry Translation at Drew University. You can follow Roberto Carlos Garcia on Twitter at @thespokenmind.


  1. Michael T. Young on

    Great poem. Very strong.

    I just noticed one thing: in the third to last line “its” should be “it’s” — the contraction and not the possessive. There is also an extra space between “some” and “thing.” I apologize if this is pedantic, but in such a good poem. . .

  2. Roberto Garcia on

    Hi Michael, thank you for your observations. The space between ‘some’ and ‘thing’ is intentional. However, the it’s and its is a typo.

    Glad you liked the poem.

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