Monday, June 30, 2014

The Prize Fighter

As a writer, I draw on many sources for the characters in my work.  As an aging writer, I try and weave these images into stories of my new experiences.  I come from a family of boxers both amateur and professional.  I am still drawn to the sport on occasions.  These two works are loosely based on people I have known.

                                         OLD FIGHTER

      After Anthony Peretti retired, he moved back to the old neighborhood. It was the proper setting for someone who wanted to live in a memory.  The buildings were faded and dingy with age. Cold winter air seeped into his little flat during the night.  The radiator could not keep up.  The old structure had too many wrinkles.    
      His internal clock caused him to stir and open his eyes to the dim light. The regimen was the same for as long as he could remember.  “Good morning Angie.”  She didn’t answer. He slept in a threadbare gray sweat suit.  It kept him warm, and he could do his morning exercises without changing clothes. Once he ran five miles every morning. Now he walked in the neighborhood.
     Rising from his single bed, he stretched the muscles on his broad frame.  His shoulders were a bit more stooped these days, but his daily routine kept him in pretty good shape. The floor was hard and cold. He eased himself down and did some push-ups and sit-ups.  While he rested, he recalled the grueling gym routine he used to do.
     He stood up and looked out the window at the brick wall of the adjacent building.  If the angle was just right, he could see a sliver of the street below.  Very few people opened their windows anymore. The sun was bright. It was a beautiful day. He turned away from the window, and looked at the picture of Angie on the end table.  She looked so youthful, and fit very nicely in his dream. 
     Entering his small bathroom, he angled his thick shoulders through the doorway barely clearing the doorframe. A mirror hung on the wall over the bathroom sink.
He splashed cold water on his face, and dried it off with a stiff tattered green towel. He looked in the mirror and noticed how his once angular features had rounded.  His ears looked like unfinished sculptures made of candle wax.  Scar tissue thickened his eyebrows and drooped at the outer edges giving him a sad countenance.  His nose zigzagged down toward his lips. His cheeks sagged, blending his once pronounced chin with the gently sloping skin of his wide neck.  This wasn’t part of his dream.
     He walked the short distance from the bathroom to the kitchen. His apartment was very compact. The dishes were stacked on the counter next to the sink for easy access. He only needed one place setting because he never had guests. He put on a pot of coffee, fried himself some eggs, and toasted some bread. With his breakfast before him, he bowed his head, and gave thanks.  He glanced at Angie’s picture again. The memories he enjoyed, but he hated the loneliness. Anthony read for a while before deciding to take a walk.  It was early afternoon.
     He pulled on his black woolen overcoat.  His hands were a little stiff and arthritic. Rabbit lined leather gloves felt warm against his skin.  Donning a black seaman’s watch cap, he left his tiny dwelling, and made his way slowly down the five flights of stairs to the street.
     For a moment he stood on the sidewalk, bathing in the contrast of warm sunshine and crisp air. An ever-changing pallet of skin colors moved over the gray concrete accompanied by a symphony of dialects. The city had its own atmosphere.  The smells of smog, refuse, and people mixed with the more pleasing and pungent odors of cooking garlic and onion.  Occasionally he smelled perfume, strong coffee, and spices. He enjoyed the hustle and bustle.
      In his dream, Anthony could still imagine walking with a cocky strut.  In reality he ambled from side to side.
     He spoke greetings to several people he knew, but avoided those who looked like they wanted to be left alone. Occasionally, he stopped at places where he and Angie used to go.  Memories were everywhere.
     “Hey old man, you’ve gotta pay the toll!”
     The loud raspy voice brought Anthony back to reality.  The speaker was large and muscular. He stood in front of a little corner grocery with his pack of “wannabes”.  Anthony knew the type.  He grew up on these streets.  Vultures were everywhere, and always would be.  Doldrums of poverty and despair were their breeding ground. He continued to walk, but turned his gaze away from the young hoodlums.
     The leader stepped into Anthony’s path. “Hey old man!  Give us your money!” The bully placed his hands against the older man’s chest.  The rest of the pack gathered around him.
      “Hey old man didn’t you hear me?”  He grabbed the lapels of the woolen overcoat and pulled. “I’m gonna teach you some respect.”
     Their faces were close now.  Anthony could smell cheap wine.  Something stirred deep inside the old warrior, more instinct than thought. He sensed the punch coming, a looping right hand.  He tipped his head slightly to the side. The fist of his assailant found nothing but air.  The young man was overbalanced and had no time to recoil.  
     Anthony responded with unexpected speed.  He drove a left hook into the blowhard’s exposed ribs, and heard him wheeze. Reflex reloaded his left hand, and he fired another hook to the bully’s head.  He felt the jaw bone give, and watched the younger man slump to the ground. He knew there would be no fight left in him.  In fact, he saw there was none left in the others either.  Cautiously he waited as they all backed away, staring down in disbelief at their fallen leader.  He could hear the young man trying to catch his breath, and see him attempt to rise from the sidewalk.  As he watched, he saw the youngster’s eyes would not focus yet. From personal experience, he knew it would take him a while to find his legs.
     Tony “The Bull” Peretti, retired prizefighter, rubbed his gloved knuckles.  He rolled his big shoulders forward, straightened his coat, and moved away from the gawking pack.  Glancing heavenward, he felt Angie’s concerned gaze.  A slight smile broke on one corner of his lips as he recalled how Angie’s gentle nudging convinced him to leave the ring. Almost apologetically he whispered, “The legs go first, the reflexes slow, but the punch never leaves”.

The next work is a short poem.  Poetry is usually dedicated to images far from the boxing ring.  I have many versions of this next poem.  I have reworked it numerous times, but I think this one gets the point across.

The Fighter

Sweat covers his body,
forms dark stains on
satin trunks,
a sheen on
red leather gloves.

Years of training
in stale smelling gyms
to fight.

He shuffles forward,

Sweat drips pink
over scarred eyelids
to taut canvas.

The beauty of his work
lost in its brutality.

Dennis Price

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Little Things

I think we focus on the wrong parts of life most of the time.  In truth, most of what we worry and fret about is out of the realm of our control.  Everyday things happen to us and around us that merit our attention, but because we have become insensitive to them they get crowed out by lots of junk that really doesn't matter. Let's try and re-sensitize our minds to look for the little blessings in life everyday and be truly thankful for them.  I wrote this poem years ago to illustrate this phenomenon.

Little Pleasures

We plan.
We work.
We save.
We dream.
But, life is seldom as it seems.

A germ,
a gene,
a wayward act
can throw perceptions off their track.

A hug,
a kiss,
a tender word
can let us know we’re not alone.

Life is life.
So, on we go
not so sure of what’s in store.
But, fearing less that great unknown.

Enjoying “little” more.

Dennis Price

Saturday, June 28, 2014


This photo is reported to be from the journal of Lewis and Clark.  I see these hares almost every morning when I walk.  We still have some vacant lots near our subdivision that are cultivated for hay or grain.  I walk the edges of these lots and that's where I encounter these interesting creatures.  I wonder how much longer it will be before they are pushed out of my area by development.  I wrote a poem about them and I hope you enjoy it.

Jackrabbit Blues
With houses hogging every lot
the habitat is shrinking fast
for hounded hares of Harlingen
who cling to every clump of grass.

They‘re long and lean
with ears to match
and walk with rocking gait.
Rumps up, heads low.

In howling wind they hunker down
on sparsely covered bits of ground
and run with blinding speed when danger’s near.
Then disappear in broad daylight.

And when I think we’ve seen the last
I scan the vacant lots’ tall grass
and there they sit, this tiny band
of hounded hares from Harlingen.

 Dennis Price

Friday, June 27, 2014

1954 Willys Overland Aero Coupe

I've owned a lot of cars in my life, but my first one was a 1954 Willys-Overland Aero Coupe.  Many memories are attached to that little car and many of my friends from that era in the mid-sixties still ask me about it. My dad bought it in 1962 for $265.00. It became mine when he passed away at the end of 1963. I think I got it running again in 1964.  I thought it merited a poem.

 Fifty Four Willys

It was my Willys Aero
in that sagging wood garage.
A reminder of a better time,             
like a withered prom corsage.

Its faded skin was green and white
and covered up with dust.
It sat on flat and rotting tires,
its nose cone flecked with rust.

I bought four Mohawk recaps,
it lifted from the ground.
I added battery, points, and plugs
and the engine came around.

I had the outside painted black.
New interior, red and white.
Colored paper covered the dome light,
to enhance the mood at night.

It had two hump like tail fins
like its cousin Henry J.
And was followed by a light blue smoke
as the Casite burned away.

Dennis Price

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer of 1965

I don't have the information available to give credit to the photographer who took this photo of some young GI's during the war in Vietnam, but I think he captures the reality of what they may have been feeling.  I remember wanting to join up right out of high school.  At that time, almost three quarters of the voters in the United States supported our efforts there.  As time passed, Americans became frustrated with the fumbling efforts of self serving politicians trying to build legacies for themselves.  My number never came up and I remained stateside.  However, I never lost my zeal for what my friends and acquaintances who fought over there were doing.  I am reminded daily of their courage and sacrifice as I see our young service men and women coming home from deployment in hostile Muslim controlled countries.  Like those in Vietnam they put their lives on the line for freedom. All who survive, and all who are wounded, come home changed forever. Our politicians have not gotten any better.  In fact, I think our current president acts in collusion with our enemies.  The fight for freedom is worth the price we pay, but we may have to bring that fight to our own shores soon as men with evil intentions diminish our freedoms and ignore our constitution.  I wrote a poem that recalls my feelings when I was young and brash.

      Summer 1965

When I turned eighteen,
our country was at war.

I possessed a child’s ideals
of what it meant to fight.
An obligation,
a feeling of tradition,
a need to prove my metal.

The reality of death never
Politicians gambled,
No focus,
no vision,
no backbone.
Their markers paid
in blood.

Our soldiers fought honorably,
with courage,
and purpose.

Dennis Price

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hauling Hay

I had a number of jobs in my life that were physically taxing.  When I first started teaching, I joined my brother-in-law in his hay hauling business to supplement my income during the summer.  The location was in central Texas, and it was hot.  I quit teaching and hay hauling after my first year.  As I sit in south Texas this summer, I try and think of times when I was much hotter, and working much harder.  It makes the heat, humidity, and the occasional doldrums of retirement, very tolerable.  I wrote this poem using my recollections of that hot and sweaty summer long ago.  Perhaps you can relate.

Hauling Hay

I was a teacher
my salary was meager
I spent the summers
hauling hay.

The Texas sun
was searing at dawn
when I rose to see
if my hay truck
would start.

I climbed in the cab.
looked at the ground.
The truck had no floorboard
just blue smoke and sound.

The hay fields were strewn.
Square bales of alfalfa.
Heavy to lift,
tough to inhale.

We stacked them high
on the flatbed behind us.
One hundred and twenty
at twelve cents a bale.

We made for the barn.
A loft with no air flow.
Sweating and stacking
and swatting the wasps.

The scene was repeated
as long as the sun shone.
Then we, and the truck

coughed our way home.

Dennis Price

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


We fight it don't we?  When things happen that are beyond our control, we seek answers in our own minuscule repertoire.  In truth, the answers or solutions that we seek are usually beyond our pay grade. Politicians ask us to fund great programs that will allow government to design solutions that will protect us for eons. What fools.  I wrote this poem in response to their call for World Governance as the answer to all men's problems.  My bible says in Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."


Whatever month you choose,
the world will turn
and tilt as seasons cycle
in their scripted course.

As vapors come and go
from land and sea,
so may some life forms
as they have through
eons past.

Snow falls when temperatures
dip low,
and rain, where temperate
climate reigns.

And floods, whenever God allows.

The score of nature is
not ours to tweak.
And lightning burns
the forest for a reason.

Our world is still in flux
and changing,
as all of life
is here but for a season.

The deserts shift to
fruited plains.
The sea becomes dry land.
But not one change
on this old earth
was wrought by man’s
own hand.

Creatures come and go,
but not because some bell
has rung.
The shepherd does
the best he can.

But in the end
it’s up to God.

Not man.

Dennis Price

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Memories

I used to take a short cane pole
and head out for the creek
where tannin colored water ran
like iced tea over white soft sand.
It pooled in bends or near felled
trees in deep black holes where
fishes hid.

With weight and hook
and wiggling worm
I’d drop my line and watch the
bobbing bobber disappear
when fish would bite
and take their flight to
wrap my line around some
hidden snag.

Dennis Price