For Jimmy, Who Bruised By Ribs and Busted My Nose

I had a bully who pursued me nearly every day during middle school until one day I’d had enough. I round-house punched him in the face, bloodied his crisp white t-shirt. His dad came to the house and threatened to beat up my dad because I beat up his son. “See, this is why I hate fighting,” I said to my dad. The following poem by Brian Fanelli is dedicated to anyone who has ever had a bully.

In our neighborhood, Fat Jimmy descended the mountain,
his chest heaving like a bull,
ready to maul a matador.

He cracked his scarred knuckles, hunted scrawny prey,
curb stomped our basketballs
like heads he wanted to bash,

or ghost rode our bikes
down the garbage trail dump,
until one day I gripped my handlebars

like a soldier clinging to a rifle,
refusing defeat as Jimmy knocked me to my back,
clocked me in the chin.

Numbed, I laughed as he pounded and pounded,
until my nose gushed, my ribs throbbed,
my skin swelled faster than his heated cheeks.

This poem is for the bully who never cried,
who hid belt lashes from us, who ran from the sound
of his father’s battered Ford tracking him down,

the son whose hands tightened to fists like his father’s,
who uncurled his fingers to study my blood,
and then extended a hand to lift me up.

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