Teddy Bear, by Peter Mladinic
Photo by Baptiste Buisson on Unsplash
At a company party he started a fight.
The only way to stop him,
the other guy
whacked his head with a beer bottle.
The blow sent him to the hospital.
I heard that, but never asked Joe.
He limped, dragged one side upward,
a special needs person
coming into Atlas Gym.
His silver wavy hair just past his ears,
a thin chain in his Tommy Bahama,
in the sauna a Rolex loose on his wrist.
In Clovis, where you and I live, Tisha,
he was a star baseball player,
at OSU football. Then
the party. The fight changed everything.
I’d sit across from him at Applebee’s,
beside him at the Incognito’s bar.
A light drinker, the last to start a fight.
Bill Henson, an ophthalmologist
told me people with neurological damage,
their personalities change. Joe
mellowed by the time he and I met.
Afternoons I saw him
in Good Samaritan, thin
under sheets, staph attacking from within,
he couldn’t get out of bed
and walk to the bathroom on his own.
Was he dying from the fight he started?
A nurse, you would know.
Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, USA. https://petermladinic.com
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