I pull my Honda to the curb in front of the train station where Anton is practicing his Tai Chi moves. Repulse Monkey. White Crane Spreads Its Wings. Part the Wild Horse’s Mane. He puts his roller blades and knapsack in the back seat and gets in.
“Thanks for picking me up.”
I’ve been giving him rides to our martial arts class for over six months. He shows me his new book on Hsing I and asks if I know anyone teaching judo.
“It would be awesome to take judo!”
We don’t talk much during the half-hour drive. Occasionally Anton punctuates the silence with comments like, “Have you seen ‘Big Man Japan?’” and “Whoa! Check out the Real Ultimate Power website.” He doesn’t act like a stereotypical black man. His girlfriend has blue hair and he speaks like a twenty-something hipster but his skin is darker than mine and he has tight, kinky hair.
Much like lifting a bulldozer while standing on one leg, our two-hour class demands balance and concentration. Sweaty and drained afterwards I want nothing more than the drive to be over so I can have a hot shower and a cold beer.
“Just drop me at the station,” Anton says.
I think about a white cop seeing Anton practicing funny motions on the platform after dark. Then I think about Michael Brown shot down on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner choked to death on Staten Island.
“That’s okay. I’ve got time.” I pass the turnoff. “I’ll drive you home.”
Jon Wesick ,host of San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series, an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, has published over three hundred poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review,Pearl, and Slipstream. Jon also published over eighty short stories. Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of Jon’s poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website.