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Long Beach, CA

On the Grabbing of the Check

Poetry Blog

On the Grabbing of the Check

Brandon Cook

I was startled and started at the slamming palm of the gentleman—
Well given the context, perhaps I should just say man—
As he grabbed the check, and his friend said, “Damn,” and smiled
The friend’s cup still settling, disheveled by the tremor of the man's masculinity
His chest pushed out just an inch further now, beneath his grin
His virility in hand, not a carcass brought back to camp,
But a piece of paper, which still signifies some strength 

The Maori, to show their virility, dance the kapa haka
Pounding the ground with such fierce testosterone
The frenzy of energy is a behemoth charging through all the channels of heart,
So desperate, like all of us, to put this power and prowess somewhere
To stand beneath the bright stars and defy our dusty lot
And the awful incongruity of so much longing and so much strength
Destined for a long, slow fade
Which, in our youth, it always seems, we can outrun, or outplay 

I thought, too, sitting across from my friend, above my Eggs Benedict,
Of the Masai drinking milk and cow’s blood and alcohol, before dancing and being circumcised
And later, on my computer, I discovered Vanuatu land diving
And all the ways to prove that we are men

But first, I sat across from another,
At about the distance of Doc and Wyatt at the O.K. Corral
As the nice waitress with the plastered smile said, “Anything else?”
And we said no, wondering who was more the warrior, and who was fastest on the draw