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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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Gladiator

Published by Webmaster on 07/30/2003 (2547 reads)
Irresolute in rigid rain

Gladiator

Irresolute in rigid rain
He shudders in his shoddy clothes,
Seeks for a handkerchief in vain,
With icy fingers wipes his nose.
A lean and livid lad he stares,
Gripping his canvas suit-case tight,
As those beneath the neon glares,
Now crowding in to see him fight.

A welter weight, six rounds to go.
Then take a knock-out -- that's the "fix".
Yet if he makes a sporty show
And don't pull off no monkey tricks,
Another match they've promised him.
Could be, they'll let him win that bout,
And if he is in smashing trim
With luck he'd knock that next guy out.

Why not tonight? The double cross
Is common in this game of guile . . .
But no, one socks to please the boss,
Or else is left to sleep awhile.
Aye, one must be a butcher block
And take a bashing with a grin,
Survive the pounding  and the shock
To be, at last, allowed to win.

He sees the crowd go milling in,
The sordid, sleek, sadistic mob;
And soon with hoarse, derisive din,
They'll spur his mauler to the job;
They'll goad the bruiser to his task,
With gritting teeth and spittle-gulp.
To see his face a crimson mask,
his body battered to a pulp.

So in the puddled, oily light,
Besprayed by every passing car
he wonders if the sky of night
Will ever glimmer with his star . . .
And now with cotton dressing-gown
And tawdry trunks he turn to where
The public wait to turn thumbs down,
And mock him, blood-bright in the glare.


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