JL is an Arizona based poet who enjoys going to the occasional bodybuilding show. He has worked as a substitute teacher, an ice cream scooper, a mosquito repellent salesman and a number of other jobs. He currently works at a grocery store and writes in his free time.
Ronnie Coleman -after Ronnie Coleman
People tell me all the time they want to compete, want to pop their pecs on the Mr. Olympia stage,
but none of these clowns want to lift that heavy-ass weight— weights that make your triceps
tremble, like chihuahuas shaking at the sight of their own shadows. Most of you are scared
of looking like a fool in the gym, yelping for help when the weight on the bench
proves too heavy for your skinny-ass, toothpick arms. But guess what,
when I first hit the gym, I could barely curl a 25-pound dumbbell, slinkied to the ground
when I tried to deadlift double my body weight. But I got big because I never felt scared
of lifting a weight above my head that could crush my skull, like a grape between my massive molars.
Sure, buddy, I may never walk again-- my knees more splintered than the wood in Gold’s Gym,
my spaghetti tendons a mess of knots and tears. But I’ll never regret lifting all that weight,
never regret feeling my joints sandpaper against one another as I lifted weight after weight
with my giant, pulsing muscles-- muscles so big and black that if you stood in front of me, I could flex
and blot out the sun.
The Austrian Oak -after 1969 Schwarzenegger
When I step on stage, I feel like a God-- light bulbs flashing, women with their mouths open like big blonde goldfish, thinking, Arnold,
please notice me! How did I get so strong, so determined? I focused on my weak points: hit my delts if my shoulders were looking
more like turtle shells than football pads; hit squats for two hours if I needed my quads to blow up like rocket ships.
I never let anything get in the way of me and the iron: even as a teen I would sneak into the gym after it closed, curling weight after weight
until my blood stained the grooves of the grip. You see, no one can stop the Austrian Oak from being crowned Mr. Olympia. Not Mentzer
and his girly words, whose mustache looks more like two poodles pushing their noses together than a strongman stache. Not, Lou and his dumb
rotini-shaped hair swaying back and forth when he steps on stage. Not even my father who would burst into my room at odd hours
in the night, and beat the shit out of me, thinking I was gay because I hung pictures of the body-builders I admired on the wall--
their bronzed bodies posing on the beach like towering sandcastles, their white smiles flashing through the dark foam.
It takes a little getting used to: the spray-on tans, the dayglo goo slathered on the night before.
But let me set the record straight: of course, the spray-on tan looks fake, we bronze ourselves all over
to accentuate the Grand Canyon of our abs, the grainy texture of our backs, not because we want to look
like we’ve spent too much time roasting like a walnut in the oven. It takes a painter’s eye
to get the color just right-- not just any chump can get the tone and hue we need.
It’s more circus peanut than the Kraft macaroni and cheese your mom served you
when your family was broke. It’s like just-plucked saffron mixed with a hint of Sunny Delight.
Some would say it’s trophy-colored, that as we prepare to hit our most muscular pose
we become the thing we want the most. But I would say the color is more a molten-orange--
that if I paint myself to perfection, my planet-sized muscles will blaze like stars