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Monday, October 12, 2020


 by T. R. Poulson

   for Eddie Van Halen

When I think of punches
I think of unrealized 
dreams and a concert, way back
in 1984, those numbers in lights against
the dark. We could only record
it in our minds. Eddie riffed like a machine

except no machine
could have held its own, punch
for punch, with him. Those songs from records
made even better with so many fans, really
getting into it, hands in the air, hands against
hands, girlfriends held up on the backs

of shoulders. Mom bought us tickets way back
in the seats, safe from those machine-
like fans on the Minidome turf—against
my will. I thought I’d taken my punches
by then, was ripe for real
lessons in love. For the record,

I was a kid, too young even to record
a first kiss or palm on the small of my back.
“I’ll Wait,” I sang, and willed it to be real,
always impatient with the machine
that was time. I believed love had no punches,
just a “Pretty Woman” winning against

mean girls, but what mean girls? Us against
them? Those riffs, both recorded
and live, erased all life’s punches
rendered us all, one of us. I want to go back,
to find a time machine
that will take me away from the real

of today, to the rose-colored real
of then. I want to fight against
the way we inflict pain like a machine
I want to stop and record
that first palm on my back.
This time, I would throw the right punches.

Roll with the punches, get 
to what’s real. I got my back 
against the record machine.

T. R. Poulson, a University of Nevada Alum and proud Wolf Pack fan, lives in San Mateo, California.  A previous contributor to The New Verse News, her work has also appeared in other journals, including Booth, Rattle, The Meadow, The Raintown Review, J Journal, Verdad, and Trajectory.