Rival Romance

By Tom Kelly


After Street Fighter


Ryu, bro, what the hell happened
to the dragon punch tag team? My plane
pinballed the globe trailing you, I waltzed
in US airshows & seedy Barcelona nightclubs,
asked about stone-faced chad in a headband,
you’re ten time zones ahead, man!

I miss sparring past curfew. I miss
your fists drumming my ribs & welts shaped
like Texas. Remember we’d smuggle
soju from sensei’s study then polish knuckles
on beater cars? Last I heard, you headlined Vegas
Fight Night against a Mike Tyson wannabe;
now you’re dog paddling in jackpots. 

So much for showing you up. I’ll always
think fondly of our Haduken, neck struggling
in your ballooned bicep, but you blew me off
in the Amazon, dude, left to box a green-skinned
circus freak. Save me a mambo at the World Tourney,
if you’re not busy flexing for glory whores. I ache
to share what I’ve learned in your absence
like a cheap shot aimed below the belt.


Tom Kelly is an incoming Creative Writing PhD candidate at Florida State University (fall 2017). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Old Dominion University and his poems appear or are forthcoming in The Southeast Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Gulf Stream, Gargoyle, decomP, and other journals. Follow him on twitter @tomvkelly.