Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Reflections at MMA Masters, Miami 

for my cousin Ricardo Lamas, ‘The Bully’


Were these not billed as martial arts, I might
resist the thresholds painting and ballet provide.
But memory, as muse, is identity’s loyal dog,
and what Bellows forgot Ballanchine recovers,
brings into focus, plants in the garden of immanence.

They roll and, with a plosive clap, the mat
rings with their flanks.  The stone torsos ride
the wheel of blurs of their arms, each leg
gauzing sight.  I see why Rilke started over
his life of the mind before speed’s radiance,

however archaic the pretext.  The fighters dance
to blows that mimic music’s clock of gesture.
The arm arcs, the head sinks, all in the cog
and score of an exercise as the bodies jitter and glide.
They stop to think their suddenness, wrap tight

their wrists, and resume to bleed all chance
from the coming battle.  For this they yearn to endure
the timeless sharpening, to promontory from the fog
of the quotidian and earn a victory that will not hide
in hope or prophesy.  A fairer art, to fight.

Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s seventh book of poems, Man, is from Carnegie Mellon U Press as are his previous four titles.  He is also an art critic and curator.