The Lightweight’s Mate by Ian C Smith

McInnes flamboyantly places his bet, going for the odds,
scorns my opponent, taller and older than me,
sallow acned skin ink-dark gloves to shoulders,
short-priced to pummel me into loserhood.

He said my pre-fight confidence impressed,
pleasing me for my bluffing ability
when I asked later, dubious of his bullshit,
a madcap gambler’s, no safety card, all show.

Round’s end, arms leaden, lungs clamorous,
sensing my tough act must overwhelm one of us,
I watch illustrated man’s corner tell the referee
he is struggling to raise his right eagle’s wing.

Florid with praise, McInnes tipped me lavishly.
I kept mum about wobbly legs, fear of failure,
chance’s fickle part, us both playing risky roles
lusting for mythical status, short on spirituality.

McInnes robs an armoured van, gets clean away,
pays cash for a Fairlane in Melbourne’s biggest showroom,
guns it toward Sydney’s glitter, an ambush of cops.
We were seventeen, the future uncharted shadow.

Ian C Smith

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in , Antipodes, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.


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