I resist the dark thoughts

that cross my mind. Thugs.

Thieves returning. Old familiars.

Sharpening sticks, whispering

and winking at one another.

Everything under the breath.


But I’m not afraid anymore.


I’ve learned how to kill

with my hands, like a hero.

They walk away laughing.

Leaving me with bloody fists.

Shadowboxing fear on the dirt floor

of my grandmother’s cellar.


Ten thousand miles from home.




8 thoughts on “Shadowboxer

  1. Dear Chris,
    Do you know I can never come here and leave just a Like and then walk away? And yet often, I have nothing to say or to add to what you have written because I am brought to a place of silence. Of contemplation. And I don’t have any coherent train of thought or quick response to jot down. Instead the words and images settle on me in silence and space. So, I might probably be the only commenter you know who doesn’t have any comments after reading your works. Strange I know. I shall take this one away with me for a while and sit with it awhile. Sharon

  2. Very interesting… this is the happy ending I suppose. Or maybe a naive dream before you’ve actually dealt with the causes of fear themselves. In either case, there is something charming about this view. I had many occasions to deal with fear head on…

    • Hi Shimon,

      This is one of the few posts or poems that I was compelled and almost attached a note of explanation to (you’ve just given me the opportunity). Often when I write, I lose the original intent once the poem begins to unfold, but am happy enough with where it’s gone, to leave it be. Other times the writing is simply interpreted much differently than intended. I accept and appreciate that the poetry has a life of its own.

      This was a hard one for me to hit the “publish” button on. A difficult piece to interpret. I don’t think the ending is happy at all. I had a wild imagination as a child, and also a lot of fear (for things imagined). Long ago I left the majority of imaginary fears behind, however every now and then the kind of fear I had as a child can show up, out of nowhere – and here’s the inspiration for the poem – I am always surprised how quickly my imagination springs to an aggressive response. The hero. And it leaves me thoughtful about how closely fear and aggression exist with one another. I truly abhor violence … and yet… a spook pops out of the woods and I go for the throat.

      For me… the poem ends with the fear “walking away laughing”… the fool, who thinks fear can be beaten with violence is left with his bloody fists swinging at the air… ten thousand miles from where his heart is… my grandmother’s cellar is iconic of my childhood fears.

      Personally, the poem expressed to me the futility of violence as a response to fear. Learning to kill with my hands, like a hero… was the a childish notion, that of course… goes nowhere.


      • I suppose, there’s a big difference between imagined fears… or little fears… and the fear connected with existential threats. Learning to kill with your hands… it can be a childish notion. But there are times, for some of us, when we have to break through everything we know as true… when we’ve taken as much punishment as we can take… and it’s either life or death. Of course, it’s much better when you haven’t had to face that challenge…

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