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SHADOWBOXER

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By Don Kenton Henry

 

He works in the quite corner of a dank and darkened gym

It reeks of the sweat of men of color and the working stiff

Alone, it’s just the mirror, the floor and him

Gone are the days he was all angle iron and barbed wire

on two feet fighting for fun or hire

Yet his hands are wrapped tight as his hardened core

Hardened still, but less so than years before

At one time, the first―his fists―were like ten pound stones

The other―his core―like a granite slab

Only now, he feels the grind of the cracks that run through them . . .

But he’s tapped for this fight and steps into the ring once more

 

For now, he jabs at his opponent who smoothly counters punch for punch

And he slides along the wall taking cover under his jab―

Protects his chin under a shoulder hunched

As each fighter shuffles to the rhythm  of his plan

Too well each knows the other man

 

In his mind, he is the pugilist young and elusive

The sweet scientist

A feint, a slip, a bob and a weave, luring the old guy in

Then suddenly impetuous―the brawling banger!

He lets loose his famous left hook which he drives from his hips

All the way from South Chicago to East Philly

It’s one that’s caused many a pug to take leave from their senses

But the guy in the mirror just gives it a shrug; and into the breach he advances

He’s bold and he’s cold and not afraid to take chances

Strong on offense

And, though worn and torn, his opponent reminds him of someone he once knew in younger days

Someone who reminds him of his once careless ways

 

Light is in his corner but very dim

Still enough to illuminate the scars of the other man

The laced brows of bigotry, the thickened eyelids of  narcissism, the cauliflower ear―one of infidelity the other of conceit

They are less trophies than sins

He feels the guilt that comes from knowing, at one time―to him―there was no difference

 

He sees that look in his eyes and the other guy sees and feels it too

He wants to take this guy out, make him feel pain, make him pay, make him lose

He wants to punish him for the smallest mistake

Today’s and yesterday’s

Prove that pride is a costly corner man

 

A double jab, a hook to the rib―break that floater! Feel it crunch all the way through the glove, up the forearm and into his shoulder―then a cross to twist the chin―to twist the jaw―to twist the spine then―hopefully―lights out

Let blood, sweat and spittle fly across the ring, over the ropes, into the crowd

across the face of family and all who judge

But the punches seem to glance off

And the old guy keeps coming

The one guy he never handed a loss

 

The old guy carries with him a reminder of everything he ever walked away from

No―not fights or punches; he took the best and brunt of those, the judge’s cards be damned!

But from the loves, the smiles, the laughter, days spent with the young and the old, the hopes, the dreams and The Brass Ring of what is now lost and unfulfilled potential

And, closing the gap, his opponent now leads with his right―his strong hand―and catches him right in his conscience

His head reels, his ears ring, and so does the bell

And the guy in the mirror raises his left hand he calls “time” and his right hand he  calls “past”

In a ring of “Broken Dreams”

 

Our fighter’s down on the canvas then awakens in bed, dripping in sweat

Until the next night when he steps in the ring with the stone cold undefeated

A dark shadow in a black satin robe that bears his name in red . . . “Regret”

And once more our fighter digs deep in his guts, down deep into his soul . . .

And gives all for the upset

shadowboxer-4

https://bardofthewoods.com

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The Sound Of A Heart Breaking

abscence-meme

By Don Kenton Henry

What sound does a heart make when it breaks

Is it as quiet as the breath that now you cannot take

Or . . . as the goodbye you never heard

 

Is it the sound of the fluttering broken wing of a bird as it struggles in vain to fly

While you watch helplessly as your broken heart joins in arrhythmic sync with it

In what seems its own attempt not to die

What difference between your heart and the broken sparrow on this cold December day

Love and nature can be hard on all God’s creatures

 

Is it the sound of a room once full of furniture

And the life and love of family

Now vacant of wood, fabric, leather and laughter

Echoing of as though of the lone Chaplain’s footsteps on an empty hospital hallway long past the midnight hour

 

Is it the sound of frozen tears dropping on a China plate

The tink when they shatter after falling from your face

Or more like icicles falling off the eaves of a roof

Which crash then shatter loudly

And you take this as proof

That is the sound a heart makes when it breaks

 

What is the sound hope makes when it leaves your heart

Is it the sound of a ship’s mainsail, one moment full and tight

The next, canvas collapsing on itself as its life breath , the wind . . . dies

Is that the sound love makes when it decides to depart

 

Or is it the echo of her laughter or a kind word that she said

Each one you play over at night as you lie in your bed

Saddened by the emptiness where just nights before lay her head

Such a short time ago her scent still lingers on the pillow

And you wonder when dreams die . . . just where do they go

 

Oh, hazel eyes, I miss you

Oh, hazel eyes, what I would give to kiss you

Once more

Oh, what I would give to write the poetry I promised you

To read the stories I had yet to read . . . and the ones which I would write for you

To put you in them like some long lost Russian ballerina who stole a school boy’s heart

To dance the dances we would have danced

To travel the miles to Rome and Paris I would have traveled with you

To feel the smiles we would have smiled along the way

This is the picture a bard had painted on his open poet heart he wished to share with you

Words unspoken, tales untold, dances left undanced, smiles left unsmiled, love ungiven

 

Oh, soft and gentle hazel eyes

Nothing to be forgiven

And nothing will be forgotten

Good-night

http://bardofthewoods.com

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STORY TIME WITH THE BARD OF THE WOODS, RECITATION #1

As I say in the accompanying video, I have been writing since I was fifteen years of age. (Except for the thirty years I took a break.) The last seven years, I have been a member of a writer’s club here in my home, The Woodlands, Texas. Our work is often read by the leader of the group, or another, member but they tell me they enjoy it more when I read my own. I suppose that is because I, more than anyone, know the feelings I am trying to convey. Outside my club, only a select person or two has heard me read my work.

This is the first in what will be a series of recitations of my poems, short stories and flash fiction. I hope you will listen and enjoy them. I also hope, with time, I will become better at reading on camera. If nothing else these will be a legacy for my grandchildren to come and allow them a look into who I was and the matters of my heart.

Thank you for listening and following . . .

The Bard

https://bardofthewoods.com

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Captured By A Classics Comic Book

By Don Kenton Henry

classic-comic-book-1

Upon first glance, she strikes you like the page of a book

She’ll never mean too much until you take a close look

Just black letters on a small white sheet

Nothing pleasing to the eye, nothing special to meet

But read her like a speed reader and examine the whole

You can’t focus on one word and expect the story to know

 

If there’s no worth in her that you can see

Perhaps you’re reading her in English, and she’s really Chinese

還有更多的我比滿足眼睛。

 

Don’t hold that page upside down

Read her from the right perspective

The page will suddenly make sense when you turn her around

 

So many “Plain Janes” that I never discovered

Just passed them on the shelf and chose a fancier cover

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https://bardofthewoods.com/category/poetry/poetry-from-my-college-years/

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RESEARCH NOTES

Focus the microscope a little closer, please

I’ve never observed a species such as these

Their method of consumption is quite crude

Their reproductive system . . . rather rude

 

Inefficient and unsuccessful despite its simplicity

Attribute this to selfdestructive tendencies

 

A succession of splitting cells and selfreplicating DNA

Mitosis, Meiosis, Prophase and Anaphase

 

It’s all too much to observe in one night

So put up the equipment and turn off the light

I’ve had enough of this species called man

Andbefore we leavelet’s not forget to wash our hands

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https://bardofthewoods.com/category/poetry/poetry-from-my-college-years/

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From Where I Sit

You talk of what you’ve done

and have the nerve to criticize me

You speak of missions failed and how much you despise me

You laugh at my defeats, savoring each downfall with great pleasure

Knowing all the time, it’s you who lost―you’ve done nothing to be measured

 

Myself, I’ve never been content seeking safety from the storm

Stagnation and―a mundane life―result from living in the norm

I took my chances; refused to hide

Sometimes I lost; but I always tried

Sometimes I fell

But I always got up

Always answered the bell, always came back tough

 

You . . . you’ve made a career out of playing it safe

Gambled only when the odds were in your favor

And you had nothing at stake

I took the long road; you took the short

I’ve come a long way

You’re still docked at the port

 

It’s easy to laugh at another’s mistakes―

Laugh with your friends and sling mud in my face

While you live with your mother―grow old and get fat

Sip chardonnay with the girls and think you’re where it’s at

Well, if it’s at the bottom―you’re there

 

But I’m on the high road and when I get to the top

Don’t remember my name, don’t give me a thought

Don’t worry, don’t fret, for I won’t forget you

Nor the things I have learned or the things I’ve been through

 

One thing before I close, before I’ve said my last word . . .

Let me pause  . . . . . . . . .

And say, thanks

For the comeback you’ve spurred

 

For without your company down in the pits

I’d be doing my time in an assembly line hitch

Living in a trailer with an obese old bitch

Drinking cases of Stroh’s  . . .

Scratching my one year―seven year itch

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https://bardofthewoods.com/category/poetry/poetry-from-my-college-years/

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EROTIC EQUINOX

May the sorrows of your mother, sevenfold

on you, her bastard son, be bestowed

 

Raped by a rabid dog on a moonlit night

Upon discovering reality with the morning light . . .

Your mother livedthe poor dog died of fright

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Can’t Compete With California

If tears were silver dollars

I’d have you to thank for making me a rich man

And if hurting me was your objective

consider yourself accomplished

 

But on your way to self-actualizing,

I think someday you’ll be realizing

you stand to inherit the fortune you gave me

Bequeathed for the way you deserted,

betrayed me

 

For you, I became an involuntary martyr for all kind of man

Left by his woman, his friend, with dreams in her head . . .

Too much time on her hands

 

For your sake, I hope there’s still gold in those California hills

That you find what you want

 

And if, what the song says is true,

there’ll be no rain in your life . . .

Except when it pours

 

When that happens,

seek shelter in the company of those to whom you ran

since turning your back on me

For time is the healer of all things

And it takes a better man than me to forgive his Judas

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TAKE A MAGGOT TO LUNCH

A homo sapien and his canine took a stroll on the street

A mobile metal monster they happened to meet

Bloody guts

 

It’s been said by the son of a son of a son

That one rots and bloats in the noon day sun

Not so for the other, he’s got a schedule to keep

Cock ‘n bull

Maggots ain’t picky ’bout what they eat

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https://bardofthewoods.com

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LAST KISS

Kiss an old friend and be glad that he is

Kiss a grandpa and feel those whiskers of his

Kiss a baby and taste its innocence

 

A lover’s kiss is sweet and warm, an expression of caring

Not as in kissing a whore

Which is merely a means to an end

 

But if you are bewildered by the temporality of kisses such as these,

Kiss death and experience its permanence

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