By W. Todd Kaneko
Anybody can be a babyface, what we call a clean
wrestler. They don’t have to do nothing. It’s the heel
that carries the whole show. I’ve always been a heel,
and I wouldn’t be anything else but.
—Mae Young, professional wrestler
Anybody can be the tulip, the nightingale,
cherry blossoms wafting across orchards
in summer. It’s easy for a woman to cock
her hip and smile at boys, for a girl
to glimmer in rhinestones and lipstick.
Screw that—I’ve never seen a woman
I couldn’t lick, never a man I couldn’t
hammerlock and stomp into the canvas.
Forget flowers, following animals naked
and pale through groves to gravestones.
Give me a cigar and a pair of trousers,
zipper up the front and rolled at the cuffs.
We can go down to the waterfront, pick fights
with longshoremen, with sharks.
Anybody can get married, start a family
and dance to songs on the radio.
I am the alligator’s smile, perilous
and sexy like a cocaine spoon,
like a barbed wire kiss. I fight in a cage
because some nights I am showered
with beer bottles and old vegetables.
Other nights men seek shelter
from my elbows and knees. It’s easy
for stadiums to rally against me, for cities
to curse my name all night. I’ll always be
the heel, desire and violence flickering
together like a house and a fire,
like your house and my fire.
Photo credit: gacabo via Foter.com / CC BY-SA Photo credit: DHPersonal via Foter.com / CC BY