Hemingway Vs. Stevens, poetry by Jordan Trethewey at Spillwords.com

Hemingway Vs. Stevens

Hemingway Vs. Stevens

written by: Jordan Trethewey



Tropical Key West—
a tiny island paradise where writers
work a few hours each day,
then bellow ‘bout physical feats,
pantomime what they’d do
should another Banty Rooster come ‘round
during the flexible cocktail hour.

“No one makes Papa Hemingway’s sister cry
into her Sidecar!”
Besmirch him all you dare
with bombast, brash Mr. Stevens,
but leave poor Ura alone.
Neither physical, nor poetic girth are currency
to insult a young girl’s brother
without him by her side.

Upon hearing the tearful account,
youthful Papa puts down his pen,
downs the dregs of his Sazerac,
places a tender peck on Ura’s forehead.
Under sour breath he recites new Wallace Stevens—
“By God, I wish I had that Hemingway here now
I’d knock him out with a single punch.”

Then he shall have his chance,
says the bearded young man
surrounded by the sea.
“That’s the third strike—
I’m calling him out.”
He slips on his sandals, lights a pipe,
goes for a neighbourly stroll.

Big-headed Stevens answers the bell
with a fabled, wild swing.
Then—a-one, and a-two, and a-
three—times down on keister.
Papa clearly the victor,
yet the judge nearly disqualifies him,
citing glasses an unfair advantage.
A consummate crowd-pleaser,
Hem hands over his spectacles.
Seeing his advantage, the elder ox,
Stevens, swings his Sunday punch,
breaks his ceramic fist in two places.

Woebegone Wallace spends five
infirm days in his room
aided by doctor and nurse.
Plenty of time to write
flowery musings on personal growth,
or an apology letter,
if one does not break their writing hand.

Later, Stevens pays Hemingway a visit.
They reconcile the Old Fashioned way,
and from how he dances around the loss,
Papa pegs him for
one of those mirror fighters
who swells his muscles,
practices lethal punches in the bathroom
while he hates his betters.

Seeing how large the poet is,
Hem acknowledges he may not have been
so willing to engage the monster
in sober daylight.
No wonder the elder man of letters made
such a splash in that rain puddle!

Back in Hartford with broken hand,
swollen-eyed Stevens continues to tell
his version of the epic battle.
But like all historical records,
only the victor’s version is written.

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