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Excerpts from A Boxing Story

Gary Hyland
From:   After Atlantis. Thistledown Press, 1991.


1. THE DOCTOR

No more boxers for me.

Bar room brawlers,
that's another story.
They don't train
to destroy people.
No one pays to watch
a couple of drunks
demolish furniture.

Four and a half hours
inside this kid's head
and I'll fight anyone
who calls this sport.

Prize fighting?
You want to know
this kid's prize?
Bifrontal craniotomy,
three subdural hematomas,
possible embolisms,
possible skull fracture,
total left hemiplegia.

Let me translate.
If he ever wakes up
half life in the cabbage patch,
maybe complete loss
of his whole left side,
years of therapy
so he can shuffle,
drool and gawk about.

No more boxers for me.
I'm a neurosurgeon
not a bloody botanist.


2. CARLSON

Ya know ya got trouble when their ears bleed
like Vern's did. Then his eyes both blister up.
It was halfway through the fourth by which time
Sully's slammin him steady as a drunk marshmallow.
I go for the towel but Arn grabs me by the arm.
"He'll be okay," he says, but the poor guy don't know
if he's inna fight or gone to Milwaukee,
an his smiles all smeared inta sausage lips.
Vern's half inta a crouch an I'm shoutin,
"Cover up, cover up," when Sully cracks him
with a riser that'd de-head a cobra.

Arnie shoulda never let the kid take on Sully
so soon after that headbasher with Rizzo.
They opened up his melon and all, but two weeks later
when Vern wakes up, his lamp's on permanent low beam.

Arnie, he gives Vern's mother the entire purse
an still slips her some green from time to time,
but he gets kinda antsy when Vern comes inta the gym.
Vern thinks Arn's world champ of the angels and saints
which no doubt gives Arn one heavy casea the guilts.


3. ARNIE

Hell, I usedta chant it to him--
Bob, bob, bob and weave.
Use yer noggin, save yer noggin.
And I'd show him howta lean back
from the jabs, roll with the hooks,
and howta cover up his bonnet–
forearms here, gloves here,
chin tucked in when the blitz hits.

Anyhow does he lissen to Arnie
who's only been around thirty years?
Every fight he's got his guard
chest high so's everyone can see
his sassy grin, every fight
ploughs in like some barroom punk,
them palookas thumpin his gourd
from Yonkers to yesterday.

Oh, he wins. That left of his
would stop a garbage truck
an his pain system's unplugged,
but his noodle takes some poundin
and when Sully catches him
leanin forward and hammers
an uppercut inta his forehead
it's finally once too much
and his shop is closed for good.

Oh, he still gets around and all
and they look after him just fine,
but there's times he don't know his mother
from Monday. A jigger of smarts
he'dda maybe made it all the way.
Now-now he's just another turnip face
shadow-boxin parkin meters.



Gary Hyland's works copyright © to the author.


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