A Man Is Not an Earthquake

W. Todd Kaneko

“I’m not the shark. I’m not a fish. I’m not an avalanche. I’m a man.”

— “Earthquake” John Tenta, professional wrestler

Call a man after a force of nature, a natural

                       disaster when disaster is another word

             for that wreckage he carries on his bones.

                       Call him a catastrophe when he needs it

                                   most, an avalanche heaved skyward

             and down across all our chests. Never second guess

                       the weight of a man’s name. The earthquake

            knows its seismic limits, its capacity for ruin

                                    so far from where a man falls hard

                                             on the inside and hides his injuries

                                                           behind a six-pack of beer and

                                    a punch in the arm. Call a man for the shape

                                             his body makes under the lights,

                                   for that species of animal he pretended to be

                                                            before we discovered that calamity

                                   lurking in his medical charts. Call him out

                                             for all those tragic things he has done.

                         Hide from the back of his hand, that cruel mark

                                   he will leave on your carcass. This life

                                             is an accident, a pile of broken stones.

                         Men are prey to those shadows of everything

          they have lost in life. Call a man whatever name

                                   feels best in your mouth — call him injury,

                         emergency, father. Call him home.

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