Before we discovered the magic
of pocket lighters, punk rock music,
or even tattooed women, my two younger brothers
and I praised the wrestlers we saw on cable television.
And each Friday after middle school,
we paid our respects by emulating them.
Andrew was always Mister Snake:
the Sidewinding Southpaw
from the rocks of Nevada.
Brandon, on the other hand,
preferred to be the artist known
as the Freaky Furnace.
I saw more of myself in the luchador,
El Gato the Victorious, as I stood shirtless
and wore a canary colored book sock
over my head like a burlap bag.
There, before both parents came home from work,
we defied the notion that wrestling was staged
with broken bed frames, leaning sofas,
and bathroom sinks that collected
the aftermath of bloody noses.
Even our pet Labrador Retriever found himself
sinking his teeth into our forearms.
Then one afternoon,
during the epic “Favorite Son” match,
Mister Snake fell victim to my dreaded ankle lace
and as I waited for him to submit,
I sat in our father’s prized upholstered arm chair.
It was an anniversary gift:
powder blue with a nailhead trim
and legs painted in an espresso finish.
It was the only piece of furniture
in the house that wasn’t obliterated.
Yet when I turned my attention
to the couch adjacent to me,
the last thing I saw was the Freaky Furnace
crashing down on us like a warhead.
And by the time we all managed to find our feet,
our father’s chair collapsed into itself:
legs, coil springs, and armrests
all heaped together along the carpet floor.
Nobody said anything for a while
until our father finally walked into the house
and immediately paused at the scene,
his reaction flushed from his face.
“Who did it?!” he demanded with revulsion.
“I want to know right now! Who did it?!”
We each looked at one another and in a desperate plea
my brothers and I had no choice but to tell the truth,
“It was the dog!” we confessed—
tails dropping between our legs
like smoking revolvers.