Poem of the Week | June 22, 2020

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Record” by Simon Shieh!

Simon Shieh is a poet and educator living in Beijing. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Spittoon Literary Magazine, which translates and publishes the best new Chinese writers into English. Simon’s work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Daily, Narrative, Muzzle, Shenandoah, The Journal, and Passages North, among other publications. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.



In violence / there is no reciprocity
like rain on soil

Shanghai / 18 years-old / Winner by knockout

The doctor called a stop
to the fight when he noticed
part of the skull exposed
next to his eyebrow—
a piece no bigger than an eye

Thailand / 19 years-old / Winner by knockout

My lower lip gushing
I drop him with an uppercut
as his queen looks on—
her lips, bright red, her mouth
curled into a smile

Brazil / 20 years-old / Loser by knockout

One night before
hoodie drenched in sweat
10lbs. in two hours

then newspapers soaked through with grease
endless slices of watermelon at the churrascaria

then his knee
shattering the bone around my left eye
the doctors called it orbital

my mistake: resting my head
on his shoulder—letting him cradle it in his arms

And to think
all those years / and not a moment of pain


Author’s Note

Every professional fighter has a “record,” an account of their wins and losses. Behind every record is a story; a story of violence objectified—hidden—in numbers. Like war statistics, a fighter’s record is an objective account of their career—calculable, containable, and communicable in a way that its content resists. This poem confronts my career as a Muay Thai fighter in its complex synthesis of violence and humanity.