Fighting Poem by Wayne Jackson

Even Then He Knew It



Even then he knew it. Smashing his fist into that man’s face with all the force he could muster and the weight of the body, the movement of his arm, shoulder, feeling the cheek give way, knowing what it was to feel what some feel, when, at the moment they are helpless and know that they must kill.

He felt it too in his own one moment over something foolish said. With his beer only halfway to his mouth, he knew he would and he did. That man knew it too though possibly he never felt it, only the hints of it somewhere else where he had forgotton.

And as his arm moved, his hand, as he lost control, he saw the knowledge in that man’s eyes staring into his own as a mirror reflecting his own memory. He couldn’t stop himself. He was beyond that point. Both knew it. He swung again and again. That man bled. Someone grabbed him. He turned, swung unseeing, returned to that man, who, weaker and weaker tried to stop, now only with his eyes, and that is what stopped him as quickly as he had begun with his best friend yelling into his ear, “God damn it you fool! That’s your brother.”