War and Peace


One white man

pummels another.

The referee’s

a diminutive figure

in café-au-lait pants,

prim black cravat.


Ringside, men in suits,

not a hair out of place,

observe the bloodsport

with relish,

flailing their hands,

holding aloft

camel fedoras,

forming O-shapes

with their mouths.

They cringe away

when Firpo belts Dempsey

hard, sending his milky torso

flying over taut

boundary ropes.


They’re hungry for gore.

It’s not what kills them. George

Bellows, who painted the scene,

died, 42,

of a ruptured appendix.

Jenna Le's two poetry collections are Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. She is a physician and a daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Her website is www.jennalewriting.com