Bare Knuckle


The cobbles 
wet with blood and gore
bodies bloody and sore
as the rolling riotous crowd
yell for more.

More blood, more pain
broken bones and broken teeth
on a  tough and lawless street 
where two fighters meet.

Odds on to win, the kid
An animal, they say he did damage
To Jacko Fynnes on the Green
Beat to death in an unfair contest.

But now Kelly had him 
down on the ground
Saw fear in young eyes 
pumped up on lies of his own skill
because he killed an old man 
unfit to stand or fight. 
But no one need die tonight.

The kid nods. 
Beaten fair against the odds.
Kelly waits for the count, the kid out.
He stands astride the block 
An old fighting cock.

The kid fought for cash
but Jem Kelly fought for pride
A last bout his last breathe.
So those gathered would know
Jem Kelly was the best

He waits now 
hand low by his side
Stance short and hunched
From defending every punch
Each jaw crunching bare fist 
that pummelled into flesh. 

His body a tableau of every blow
That landed high or low 
His face etched in the terrain
of sweat and pain.

And here he stands 
at forty nine
on a back lane.
After beating fair 
strenght and youth
But the honest truth
That he is past his prime
His time up but his gut say no
Lets go. One more time for pride.

© Dave Kavanagh @

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