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Hagler and Hearns, 1985

Updated: Jun 7, 2022


What’s the sweet science

if not a series of experiments

where irresistible force meets

an immovable object?

But what if one object is moving

to meet something that won’t

be moved unless the force becomes,

finally, unable to resist?

What if, under the brightness

of all the lights in Caesar’s Palace,

a broken hand can’t break

a hard man’s head or heart?


Hearns’s hook was pure

physics, an electrical storm

that left minds rewired:

unplugged and lights out.

Hagler’s chin was not

unlike a mountain range,

requiring centuries of wind

to shift a centimeter.


Does the wave despair

when it throws itself

at the shore, then collapses

back into black depths?

Do the rocks rely on instinct,

or are they focused solely

on the forces that shape them,

made to endure everything?

Will the stars look down

in silence, ceaselessly in awe

of the ways Nature rages then rests,

content to have changed everything?

Close-up photo of rope with water and snowy mountains in background
I Keep Thinking There's Something, by Zak Schafer


Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered" and been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. A long-time columnist for PopMatters, his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, and others. His chapbook, The Blackened Blues, was published by Finishing Line Press in July, 2021. This Kind of Man, his first collection of short fiction, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha's Vineyard. He’s Founding Director of 1455, a non-profit literary organization. To learn more, and read his published short fiction, poetry, and criticism, please visit and @bullmurph.


Zak Schafer is currently afloat on a 41-year-old sailboat, though he does not know how to sail. Tied to a transient dock in southeast Alaska, on nights of swell he wakes to moaning lines, needing to be loosened, coaxed back to sleep. Wander onto more of his work at


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