Tonight, I am in search of clues
on how to be a man, not a man
like my father, who traded his motorcycle
for a job in the plane yards after
my mother left. Before my father tried
telling me that business was fake,
we watched men scrap with brass
knuckles and bull ropes. Back then,
a dude could get his jaw broke
calling the wrong guy a fake.
Lou Thesz was a bona fide grappler
stretching men with that toehold
facelock, snapping men’s elbows
to protect his championship belt.
My grandfather saw him lose the title
to Bronko Nagurski, celebrated footballer
who stomped men into the turf on his way
to the end zone. Before my father died,
he insisted my grandfather never saw
that match, that men always invent things
when they have something genuine
to say. Today, everyone knows that fight
was fixed. Tonight, I am thinking about
all those shapes Lou Thesz could twist
out of a man’s skeleton, and how
some nights that just isn’t enough.

About Todd: W. Todd Kaneko lives and writes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work has appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Southeast Review, Lantern Review, NANO Fiction, the Collagist, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. He teaches at Grand Valley State University. Visit him at