Temporary Champions


Poems by

Darren C. Demaree

ISBN: 978-1-59948-487-7, 73 pages, $14

Release date: October 14, 2014


Darren C. Demaree is from Mount Vernon, Ohio. He is a graduate of The College of Wooster and Miami University. He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. Outside of his own poetry, Darren is the founding editor of AltOhio and Ovenbird Poetry, as well as a member of the Sundress Publications editorial board. Currently, he is living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. “Temporary Champions” is his second collection of poetry.

To be able to write about something as poetic & brutal as boxing, you need something poetic & brutal. In ‘Temporary Champions,’ Demaree accomplishes just that: the glamor in ugliness–how a boxer’s hands look pale & shriveled after the gloves are unlaced, how the ceilings of casinos look after ducking the wrong way. The language here dances, certainly: fools of the moon, sparrows, rotating shoulders; but don’t be fooled by the footwork–these poems swing with conviction: what you perceive at first was just a glancing blow may just leave you flattened.

–Brian Oliu, author of So You Know It’s Me, Level End, & Leave Luck to Heaven.

“The hero kills. / The other hero / dies. We love it.” In sport, war, or fantasy, heroes are either superhuman or martyrs playing for the human audience. This is the normal state of things. However, one of the highest goals of art is to transform the status quo. And in Temporary Champions, Demaree uses one of modern sports’ darkest moments to transform the relationship between participant and audience and uncover uncomfortable truths. The bloodied bodies of our heroes are human bodies, and the spectators are not powerless bystanders, but pallbearers and poets who carry heroes to their resting places in the earth or in the heavens.

–Jason McCall, author of Dear Hero, and Silver


The blood, expanding in Kim’s brain,
enough to start a good drunk’s night
& enough to end the labor of the fighter’s

song. Three days later, three days past
the measuring of fluid lost, taken, torn
out of his caving, could the damning

pronouncements have been phrased
without the cloth of a priest wringing
his hands without a sip of water nearby?

It’s nothing, to take three or four swallows
of a dream, or to imagine that little bit
of dead tissue flooding without hope

for repair. Kept up for nights after the rally
from Kim never came, did Boom Boom
find any measure for the implicating despair?


Cornered by Kim, the questions
about Kim’s death, the fight
that needed to happen to change
the questions about Kim’s death
to now that you’ve fought and won
after Kim’s death, will you defend
again your need for a clean soul
& a gaudy belt? Forward sometimes
is a circle, a wish to well the pain
of errant directions. If you throw
punches without eye sight,
the chance that you will end up
blindly targeting the wrong man
becomes a fate accompli. Death
always wields a weapon, Ray too.


The first time arms are raised
in victory, we see a young man,
his face, uncovered, death mask

ripped away, exposed first
to the crowd as a champion,
second as a defeater of other men.

If you re-watch film of the victor,
if you watch it a third time,
you will see only how bloody he is

& even wrapped in joy, his body
is unhappy with the current trials
& after that, only elegy exists.

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