[The Big Smoke reading group]
"Fisticuffs" closes this first section of poems in Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke, just before we leave Jack Johnson entering another phase of his life. We discover Johnson's matured identity as a fighter, particularly who he is and is not.
Johnson, now an established prize fighter, has named his left hook “Clara,” after his first love. He reveals that she stole his heart and more: "I took a train all the way to St. Louis / to get her back, just so she could take / the rest of my money & leave again."
What did you think of this language practice or moment of wordplay with Johnson naming a powerful punch after a black woman that hurt him?
--Jeremiah Carter and Howard Rambsy II