That boy, the champion breath holder,
Kenji Takezo, lost his title
This year to Mack Stanton
A retired truck driver
New to the area.

Held in the town swimming pool
Thirty-five participants inhaled
Deeply all at once
Submerged the depth.
The contest went on into twilight.
One by one each person
Came up sucking air.
Kenji was the town favorite.
We wanted him to win again.
He trained so hard,
It was the only real talent
He had
Other than surfing and making
Trouble. When he surfaced
Second to last
Gulping the night
Then vomiting water,
We were disappointed.
He was doing so well.
He had his lucky twenty-pound brick
Cradled in his lap.
It kept him down.
But that trucker Mack was too good.
He read
Comic books, aloud, underwater.
We watched from the bleachers
His laughter bursting above him.
Kenji saw this too.
He never had anybody
Read to him
Not even his mother,
And he wanted to hear
What was being read
What his opponent found so funny.

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