Max Heinegg

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I peel, you dice.
After a quarter century
here, I am in charge when she asks me
because someone who has eaten may still be hungry.

She calls me over to test if the carrot’s sweet,
to try her Czech tomatoes- that Peter dug.

We work & don’t
discuss the doctors, who I distrust
based on geography, thinking Boston might save her
years that upstate won’t.

There was a time when the novelty of a man
in the kitchen wore off, & she’d leave
the room as I left it, the mess my own rejoinder.
But when I picked up on it, she showed me
vinegar’s added to hot potatoes,
that broccoli salad needs sugar.  

I still skip the deep prep, don’t start
Thanksgiving the week of.  I know the roots
are salted mid-saute, & mind how much
distraction tastes- so I should remember
to adjust, as she does, keeping a cloth
on the counter, tasting as I go.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler

-Who made his nickname legal so the announcers would say it.

As I child, I marveled that a man could choose his name.  
Southpaw kayo king with masonry jaw, he wore the strap
six years plus in a dozen defenses from Duran to Hearns-
in “The War” with “The Hitman,” in Caesar’s, he endured
a siege of elbows & uppercuts to land the granite right.  
On my 13,” black & white, I only saw Ray Leonard  
dance away from that damage. Tallying jabs, painless
points, he skipped engaging, emptying an arsenal
of dizzying ballistics to rob Marvin. That day,
in between rounds, the slight cardio-king, Sugar
wore his towel like a matador’s cape, & killed
nothing. My hero bull-rushed the wristed flourishes
‘til the bell- when I learned judges don’t honor power
gone unwielded - they crown who sham control.

Dear Tailgater
You desire closeness; 
I desire separation.
Perhaps your truck, blazoned 
with Trump & police patronage 
stickers, is not a cliché. Perhaps 
I should be driving 50 in a 30, 
instead of a fleet 40. 
Perhaps it’s your wont as a local 
driver to not share your toy roads, 

but I am also driving my child, 
so perhaps behind the wheel your mind 
forgets a world of consequences: 
I could be war-steeled, a pro 
wrestler, ninja, TV gladiator, 
& not a chalk-dust clapping 
public servant. 

How if this were a movie, 
the audience would savor 
the imminent as I step from the car, 
eager for the confrontation, 
connecting to your temple,  
my booming justice meted 
to flurries of excited popcorn-
but this is real, & your 
provocation is not worth my risk.


Max Heinegg's recent poems have appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, The Rise Up Review, San Pedro Poetry Review, Mojave River Review, and Shantih Literary Journal, among others. As a singer-songwriter, his records can be heard at He lives and teaches English in Medford, MA.