Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13: Poet of the Week, W. Todd Kaneko, "Killer Kowalski and the Cauliflower Ear"

I'm sure everyone is expecting me to do a week of love poems, in honor of Valentine's Day.  Well, I'm sort of doing that.

The Poet of the Week is W. Todd Kaneko, and I will be including poems from his book The Dead Wrestler Elegies, which is a collection Kaneko wrote about a sport/athletes that he loves--professional wrestling/wrestlers.

It may seem on odd choice, but the poems in this book are full of love and tragedy.  They move me in a very deep way.  They may not move you in the same way, but give them a chance.

Saint Marty is thankful tonight for poems about dead wrestlers.

Killer Kowalski and the Cauliflower Ear

by:  W. Todd Kaneko

When I asked my father how a wrester
sheds fake blood, he said the best thing
Walter Kowalski ever did was break off
that chunk of Yukon Eric's ear.  When I asked
if an ear could be reattached, my father
said they called him Killer after he laughed
at all that blood on the canvas.

The cauliflower ear is a brittle condition--
a gnarled badge for men who live by
the fist, who die when they can no longer hear
their names in mouths of women and children.
When I asked my father about my mother,
he explained how Killer Kowalski left
Jack Dempsey gasping on the floor
with a knee to the gut, how he attacked
a talk show comedian with his claw-hold
because he felt like it, how a blow to the head
can bloom thick with gore and cartilage.

Yukon Eric was a babyface for bloodthirsty
crowds, shot himself in a church parking lot
after his wife divorced him.  Killer Kowalski
was the most hated man in wrestling,
attacked nightly by ladies with knives
and umbrellas.  When I asked my father
about his life before my mother
left us, about those things a man needs
to know about his father before he dies,
he nodded, pretending he couldn't hear.

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