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The Way Down

ISSUE:  Autumn 1990
forehead scabbed from falls
the retired boxer
with mashed nose
and dapper mustache,
sparring partner of the many
who, rugged, proud and lazy,
once found it easier to stand
and be pummeled numb
than bob and slip punches,
now sleeps in the booth
by the blaring jukebox
holding his head
with a lumplike hand.
His gone paunch juts
his fancy belt and buckle.
His cowboy boots are torn.

Loving dreams
of a glory
he yet may miss
the thirsty novelist
shirking his desk
is jarred momentarily
by what he must see,
loath to calculate
the slow ineluctable toll
of character on fate.


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