Friday, August 18, 2006

On Punching People in the Face
I have a confession to make.
I practice hitting people.
Have done so for years.

I imagine you’re wondering why I’m telling you this.
That you now have a reason to
fear sudden violent trauma should we
come to some disagreement.
This is simply not the case.
It’s not you people I have it out for.
It’s not those people standing
there outside that door either.
But if not you or them,
just who is it my fists yearn for?
Why all this perceived violence?

Wait a second…
Step back.
Slip that punch.
Fade away into the corner.
Call time.

I’m there in the garage,
squared off in front of a heavy bag.
And I’m wailing.
A staccato ostinato of ill intent.
My gloved fists rain in upon that bag
in a persistent effort not
to go mere pitty-pat,
but penetrate,

I should point out that,
when I’m punching the heavy bag,
I make faces.
It’s something over which I have no control.
Id idiomatic.
A facial flaunt of
foul infliction.
---Please note that I
in no way
appear endearing.

So there,
just at the culmination of a
particularly vicious lead, cross,
uppercut tantrum of leather,
I hear the voices of my
young niece and nephew
somewhere there behind me.
One is all of seven years old;
the other five.

I turn to fully face them
and there they stand,
stark still and squarely framed
in the large garage door.
Though backlit,
I can see their eyes are wide open.
Indeed, in their pollyanna world,
I have just become a bit of an

After a long pause,
my nephew finally speaks.
“Uncle Jack,” he questions timidly.
“Why are you so angry?”
I drop my hands to my side,
and reply, “Well, I have to be
if I’m going to hit the bag.”
And with a pained look on his face,
he comes back with,
“By why Uncle Jack?
Why do you have to hit the bag?”
And with the expression echoed
there on my niece’s face,
I can tell she is perfectly in sync with the question.
“Well you see, I have to,
because you never know when you’ll have to…
‘Cause there are times when…

How do you explain to an innocent mind
the need to practice hurting another individual?
How do you qualify the transfer
of that which exists within your adult world
to a Disneyesque realm
void of atrocity?

“Well, you see, Mommy’s being raped and…”

No. No. No.
You can’t acknowledge that.

“Okay. This guy’s coming at your eye
with a broken bottle and…”

“This other nation has a thermo-nuclear bomb
which they hope to incinerate us with and…”
“And there’s Anthrax.”
“And there’s Sarin Gas.”

None of this.
None of this.

None of this exists.

And I’m forced to look at those two kids and say,
“Uncle Jack can’t explain this to you.
It’s just something…
he does.”

And with that, they
simply turn around
and walk away.
Their world now
ever so slightly tainted.

And what I want to say to them is:
“One of these days you’ll understand,
and of this, I’m sorry.
So very

Turning back to the bag,
I step in and deliver
my final punch.
Yes, a pretty good blow,
yet nothing so brutal as
what awaits

©06 Jack Hubbell