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Dear C. M. Punk

            Spring 2014

Dear C. M. Punk, where did you go?  You helped us
make a cult of you, then ran away when our love
was too much.  In Chicago, your hometown fans
can’t stop chanting your name.  They need you
to sit cross-legged in the ring, tear down
the big machine you hate but use to pay your bills.
You’re only 35, and while I halfway hope
you won’t come back, cheapen the grand exit
that you’ve made, I know how hard it is
for guys to stay retired.  When I miss you the most,
I replay the night you faced Paul Heyman
and his protégé, Heyman calling you a son
he’d made and come to hate, his spit flying
in your face when he over-pronounced Punk. 
The next time you were on TV: two black eyes,
stitches in your hair, your red-starred hoodie
riding up to show the welts and bruises
on your back.  I doubt that single match explains
why five months later you walked out, but to me
the narrative makes sense.  I wonder if the wrist-tape
you wear to the ring—straight-edge Xs drawn
across your hands—brings your anger on
or holds it in.  Like you, I rely on irony and innuendo,
threaten to punch the world’s face to hide
that I’m afraid.  When you call your fans fickle,
you want them to prove they aren’t.  C. M. Punk,
if you stay away from wrestling for good, we’ll just learn
to follow someone else.  I worry you’re the one
who won’t be able to let go, that you can’t live
without the love you’ve been pretending to resist.



Because I already draw cheap heat
without intending to and wouldn’t mind
a wardrobe made especially for me—
a suit of spandex armor, boots
with padded knees.  Because it’s true
the ref is never looking when I need him to. 
Because it wouldn’t only be my feelings
that were hurt.  Insults would lead
to injuries that everyone could see,
give me good reasons for revenge. 
Because if people weren’t connecting
with my character, I could take a few
weeks off, come back as someone else
without feeling I’d failed.  Because none
of my best work has made it onto film,
been turned into a highlight reel
for sale on DVD.  Because I’d know
before the fight if I was going to win,
how much effort to put in.  Because
no matter how well I perform no one
hands me a gold belt, drops streamers
from the ceiling while I stand with my arms
raised.  The fans I have don’t scream
my name, buy my merchandise or hold up
signs they spent hours designing. 
Because my soundtrack could be heard
outside my head.  Because instead
of trying to be less myself I’d work
at being more, turning the volume up
until I couldn’t be ignored.  Because
my feuds would have a script for me
to follow.  Someone would tell me
whether I was face or heel, the best time
for a turn.  Because the stakes inside
my every day are never big enough.  


Carrie Shipers’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New England Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review, among other journals.  She is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length collections, Ordinary Mourning (ABZ Press, 2010), Cause for Concern (Able Muse Press, 2015), and Family Resemblances (forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press).