Jimmy Snuka Loves the World, by Daniel Romo

I stood on the edge of my bed—ready to leap, 
sign language I love you inches from the ceiling
declaring that my descent was more than simply
mimicking my favorite wrestler’s finishing move.
More than a haphazard crashing down onto my
younger brother.
It was a boy who became a dream who played hard
like the future was a guaranteed soft landing,
no matter how high the jump was from.

Only now, thirty years later, did I learn of
Jimmy’s mistress, found in a hotel room,
bruises and abrasions gripping her skin,
consistent with “mate abuse” says the coroner.
He concludes that she did not fall on the highway
and hit her head, as Jimmy claims.

No trace of dirt or debris could be found
embedded in her DNA.
But it was discovered that she was sharing
a secret life with a beloved Fijian whose physique
was born of volcanic proportions.
Who balanced, barefoot and bloody, on the top
of the steel cage in Madison Square Garden
and flew through the rafters,
camera flashes capturing and illuminating the moment
before he landed on the limp body of Don Muraco,
like he was lava shot into the sky,
waiting to singe the earth below.
She was sleeping with “Superfly!”
A heavyweight star known for floating with the clouds. 
     So how is falling anything like flying?

While I played make-believe in my bedroom,
Jimmy Snuka was cheating on his wife.
While I pinned my brother, 1... 2... 3...
Jimmy Snuka was counting ways to cover-up his crime.
Today I sit on the edge of my bed—ready to confess
I haven't been the best husband, myself.
That our trial separation was my attempt at playing the heel
of the relationship,
so that our loved ones would jeer me and not her,
because we were both young,
and not ready for a son.

The Garden has given way to high school gyms.
The crowds are more sparse than sell-out.
But Jimmy still wrestles.
A senior citizen Polynesian man no longer able
to perpetually stand on the top turnbuckle
acknowledging the fans with his signature
reciprocating sign.
Now, he painfully tries to balance on the middle rope,
and merely falls forward onto an opponent
young enough to be his grandson.

I want to remember Jimmy Snuka the way I saw him as a kid.
When my wide-eyes first saw that men could fly.
When I could predict how the match would end.
When I still believed that wrestling was real,
and anything fake in my life would never really hurt.


Daniel Romo is the author of Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013), When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and The Man in the Red Raincoat and the Woman who Cupped Fire in her Hands (ELJ Publications, 2014). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, and elsewhere. He is the Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at danielromo.net.