Take It Back

Jim Simmerman

Maybe it’s different

with you. How I grew up

there was always some kid

bigger than me, some lug,

some stupe, some Ronnie Boone

with fuzz over his lip

and those muscles you get

squeezing tennis balls,

skulking on the playground

before homeroom or glued

behind some tree somewhere

I have to pass alone

and — boom — he’s on my chest

like a stump, slapping me

daffy, his knees gouging

gopher holes in my arms

as he croons take it back,

so soft and close and sweet

he could be telling me

a secret or kissing me

on the mouth, take it back

if you know what's good for you.

Some things I did I didn’t

take back. I could

say one, embarrass us

all for a time. Then you

could take your turn, then

somebody else, until

the bullies inside us

get bored and go home;

till we’re each of us smack

on his back by himself

in the same stupid life,

and we do it again —

the whole thing pathetic

as a push-and-go-round

where I stick to my guns,

and stew, and spin — the same

tune repeating itself,

the same verse, the opus

of Ronnie Boone: take it

back, take it back if

you know what’s good for you.

Which I don’t though I do.

From Moon Go Away, I Don’t Love You No More (Miami UP, 1994); first published in Poetry

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