Published on Academy of American Poets (

Winter Night

The late-afternoon light entered
the living room through the barred
windows like a boxer through ropes.

When my mom’s bronze Chevrolet
pulled down the driveway, I hurried
away my toys. She always waved,

never smiled. Funny how my dad
coming home isn’t a memory.
It was not joy when they got home

but relief. With his hand, my dad
warmed beer, and my mom, with
a fork, jabbed defrosted meat.

This was when she started calling
me Champ. At dinner, dad asked
if I wanted the belt. My memory

of those years is punch-drunk.
Her best defense was a good offense.
Like the warming before snow,

mom thawed into pleasantries.
After dinner my father sat on the floor
with his corduroy shorts riding up

his thighs while I put on boxing gloves
around his shadow. I floated, stung.
I rode his shoulders over crowds,

raised my arms. The oversized gloves
on my hands were smaller, lighter
than my want to punch him.


From Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.


David Tomas Martinez

David Tomas Martinez received his MFA from San Diego State University. He is the author of Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018) and Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014), winner of the Devil's Kitchen Poetry Reading Award. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize and the Verlaine Poetry Prize, Martinez has received fellowships from CantoMundo, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He will serve as the guest editor for Poem-a-Day from September 14–October 15, 2020 and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Date Published: 2014-03-13

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