I’m trying my best to figure which move suckered me
most. The Gorilla Hug. Double Reverse. Reverse
Double Reverse. Or the Captain Jack, which tortured
my elbow behind my back. Then he’d cut me down
with the Lumberjack, drop me flat-faced on the mat.
Not once, but over and over, a whole month of gym class,
as long as Leon’s mom’s Bulldog job lasted, cocktail trays
balanced like she needed wages and never spilled a drop.
The Bulldog Grille, gut-punched and gasping for breath
when the King’s Feast moved in across the street.
Bullied into shabbiness by blood velvet glitz
of some rich bastard’s Chicago success expanded up north.
The Bulldog couldn’t afford the fact Leon’s mom was black.
No one said that right out. Local wives fussed about
her red heels and lips to match. Her much too perfect teeth,
her wide smile flashing like she owned rights
beyond what she’d been invited. And the men said, Fine.
Fine, as long as not too many wander up here and dig in for good.
What was it Leon guessed, averting my smile, holding his back?
Turning his gaze as if to look past me. Dropping his handshake
sooner than I’d quit mine. Could have muscled a quick
takedown, but wrestled me with a move he learned watching
his mom’s short stay, I’d bet. Gave me an opening to grab,
then suckered me off balance by jerking it back.