“Michael Bolton: A Physical Education” by Eddie Kim

I get into one fight each year I live in Kotzebue.
Chinky eyes lack irony, and the milkshakes that console me
find too much purchase under taught t-shirts.

Getting pantsed at the urinal looks and feels redundant.
My nakedness dancing in fits, trying to pinch the flow of piss. 
When Mrs. Peacock consoles me, I tell her to fuck off.

Cursing is how I collect retribution, and my fucks are Bruce Lee nunchucks.
Kids play zero-sum games, and I don’t know if I’ll ever become King of the Hill,
but I know how I get my first black-eye, snow and ice.

I am embarrassed it didn’t come from a fight, so I lie.
My father shows me his favorite punching techniques,
but tomorrow we will dance to Michael Bolton.

Mrs. Peacock walks into the gym with her boombox like a briefcase,
her ponytail askew, held by a scrunchy made of black
incandescent sequins. We jazzercise beneath northern lights.
The ramshackle floor aches under our reeling.
A sixth grade class 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle
sweating to Michael Bolton.
My bowl-cut severe and bouncing middle-aged, white aerobics.

Mrs. Peacock is not the PE teacher. She is necessity manifest.
I feed this scene to pigeons for decades,
sprinkling crumbs of schoolteacher and Michael Bolton,
making fun of their papier-mâché dance.
I ridicule a Peacock’s lack of irony.

90s Michael Bolton is an easy target.
A breath of chest hair with his shirt’s unbuttoned nakedness,
that voice throbbing for Kmart airspace and Cherry Icee.
His golden curls gamboling in the wind like a horse through flames.
I learned to dance listening to Michael Bolton,
perhaps that’s why I don’t dance these days.
I’m embarrassed by dancing’s sincerity, so I lie.
We’re not allowed to like Michael Bolton, even ironically.

I don’t like Michael Bolton or dancing,
but maybe I need Michael Bolton and dancing.

Eddie Kim received his M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is a Kundiman fellow from Seattle. His poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Margins, The Collagist, Pinwheel, Narrative Magazine, and others. His poem, “Telephone of the Wind,” was featured on Tracy K. Smith’s show, The Slowdown.

Image: “Diva” by Nicole Monroe

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