Must Go On
By Sean Battle

Sept 13, 2001–the World Wrestling Federation hosted a special Live edition of WWF Smackdown in the Compaq Center, Houston Texas. This was the first public assembly of such magnitude in the United States since the demise of the World Trade Center

Kayfabe was given the ok
to be relaxed, as the locker room
stood on titration ramp in unified
tribute, much like for Owen
in 99, for Eddie in 05.

The owner, proudly sporting gray hairs
like scarred youth poured into this Empire,
stood in the ring, microphone in hand,
gave encouragement to millions
in shoot promo. He knew an enemy
was out there now, pulling run-ins on cockpits,
bending planes toward brick and mirror
the way chair steel bends around spine.

U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A

In defiance, every superstar, diva, referee,
timekeeper, agent, and ring announcer,
stood alongside firemen and cops still reeling
from the lowered number of Good Mornings
given when going to work the next day,
all with hands over heartbeats choked
by salt water steaming from eyes.

In-between matches were taped testimonies
from warriors like Kurt Angle, who admitted
first responders were more deserving of gold
worn around the same broken freaking neck
he finished the Olympics with. He could only
imagine how many broken freaking souls went
back to work with no hype video or entrance music.

U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A / U-S-A

The rest of the night was filled with
five, with ten, with fifteen, with twenty
minute contests of bravado designed
to help this baby skull soft crowd
steer clear of violence volleying from
memories of massacre under light blue
sky. Just focus on the pageantry

of fist and legs flying to shift
momentum, of headlocks under
burning lights, making victims
mistake lack of breath for slow
death, of quick counter attacks
that lead to false finishes or decisive
conclusions, depending on how hard
one hits to defend our country’s name
canonized into a three (U) lettered (S) chant (A)
against foreign grapplers.

Sean Battle is the combination of an ambitious mother, WWE Pay-Per Views, and bands with names like Faith and the Muse. He is an EOF senior in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-New Brunswick, majoring in English, and and has been accepted into the Rutgers-Newark MFA program for poetry. On-campus, Battle is president and Open Mic Co-host of the Verbal Mayhem Poetry Collective, Peer Mentor for Rutgers Upward Bound, and tutor for Plangere Writing Center. He has released one chapbook, MID-CARDER (self-published, 2010) and is working on his first poetry/ music CD. Poems have been published or are forthcoming in Objet d Art, Polifax, The College Journal, Borderline, and have been performed in the Raices Cultural Center production, Spirit of the Drum: History and Evolution of a Caribbean Tradition. He lives in Voorhees, NJ.