by John Johnson

A yellow belt restricts
this chubby boy’s midsection
like a boa constrictor,

The smell of starch
and sweat permeates
the fabric of my bright white Gi,

On my flabby left hand,
the number “65” a scribbled
mark from the weigh in,

Large blue mats cover
the cavernous auditorium
like wall-to-wall carpet,

Hundreds of fidgety kids
form a Great Wall perimeter
with crisscrossed legs as we wait,

Finally, the smoky voiced announcer
calls my name, and I race to the middle
of the mat, as if I was shot out of a cannon,

But, soon, I am frozen
in place by the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk
waiting for me,

This string bean post-pubescent opponent,
almost six foot tall with a full mustache
and chest hair growing in,

As ceremonial bows are exchanged,
I reverentially look up to the heavens
just to make eye-contact,

He quickly grabs the lapels of my uwagi,
and with the fluidity of Baryshnikov
and the strength of Hercules—


Into the air and onto my back in three seconds,
A half-digested Entenmann’s coffee cake
sinks to the bottom of my stomach,

As I am interrogated by the ceiling lights,
my prone body lies limply
waiting to be surrounded by crime tape.

Stumbling back to my feet,
I want to try again, but the match is over.
All I could muster was a final bow.

John Johnson is a poet who loves language but also data and numbers. He resides in Northern Virginia where in addition to running his consulting firm as a professional econometrician, he loves pizza, professional wrestling, and regularly writes with his wild writing circle. John’s poetry tends to focus on humorous aspects of his geeky childhood and his journey as it relates to entrepreneurship, family and friendship, and failed athletic endeavors. His website is poemsovercoffee.com.