David Carradine

I do Kung-Fu in my dreams—knife block,
eagle claw, spinning backfist and I can’t stop
imagining how death feels to a man

with lightning in his hand, how a punch lands
in a man’s chest when no one is looking
for someone to fight. I watch Kung-Fu

on television in 1979, a facsimile of violence
after dinner every night. No one knows how
I move my body like the breeze across America

in search of my father, living near Sea-Tac
airport, living in California, living everywhere
I am not able to do Kung-Fu—horse stance,

punch-block-punch. My father used to talk
about how his friend Bruce Lee was replaced
by a white man who did Kung-Fu for television,

how fighting on television is choreography
and not the real pain a man feels when he lives
in a body not American enough to be beautiful

because fake Kung-Fu is more dangerous
than the tiger’s furious kiss, fake Chinese
less scary than the golden fire a dragon breathes

for a prime time audience. I don’t know Kung-Fu,
but I do the best Kung-Fu that I can: crane stance
open palm strike—hi-yah! This is what I need

to say: there are so many ways of being a man,
so many ways of talking about the body’s grace,
its fragility at the edges of the desert where I am

looking for any figure resembling my father.
I punch at shadows, try to kick the sky, windmill
my arms to keep from falling over into the dust.

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of This is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence 2020), and The Dead Wrestler Elegies (New Michigan Press 2021), and co-author with Amorak Huey of Slash / Slash, winner of the 2020 Diode Editions Chapbook Contest. He teaches at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.