The Contender

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My father, once a boxer

Now a fighter,

Swings at opponents no one can see

And shadowboxes nightmares through his sleep.

This is not a title fight for belt or crown

Just by the edge of the bed,

Rings the remembered bell of every round.

 

He did not speak much in his last days,

Would walk to his corner of the room,

Prostrate swollen

The size of a boxing gloves,

Death was playing with him,

Jabbing, setting him up for the knockout.

He would have none of it

And say; “I can take him, he’s a clown.”

Just by the edge of the bed,

Rings the remembered bell of every round.

 

We were trainers, but it was more than a cut eye

Or nose battered to one side.

He was aware of the morphine,

Our overdosing to get him to take a dive,

But he got up and threw haymakers in the air

We cried from his corner; “Stay down, stay down!”

Just by the edge of the bed,

Rings the remembered bell of every round.

 

He did not return to his corner again,

He fell into the canvass

Gasped as if to release a mouthpiece

With mouth wide open and turned to the side.

Death danced with hands in the air

And the trainers cried.

Placed in a bag, readied for dirt

His sons got rid of the bed in which he died.

But he really won that fight and Death is a clown,

Our memories are of a whole life

Rings the remembered bell of every round.

 

 

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Categories: Family, Life, Poetry

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