WAIL! | The CBZ Journal | August 2004
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Ketchel in Red, White, and Black

by Bruce Wozny

 

Stanley Ketchel

was 24 when he died

shot in the back

gasping

asking

finding an answer

in death

 

the champ

who could not be tamed

levelled by a nobody

with a rifle

and an attitude

 

Stanley must have known

that day would come;

he couldn't scare them all off

with his revolver

 

what did he learn

between catching a freight train

out of Grand Rapids

and expiring

on a farm cot

in Missouri?

 

a boy whose father was murdered

he never felt safe

his mother couldn't protect him

neither could his gangster friends

neither could his gun

 

but he smiled in the ring

a place of fair play

honor

fist versus fist

no blackjacks

shanks

clubs

broken bottles

all above board

in front of a crowd

referee in black tie

white shirt

white canvas

red trunks

red blood

 

now on his death bed

he sees it

all drain away

severed from the invisible air

his face

turns pale

the room turns

grey

 

in old films

chalk and charcoal

the passions of violent men

are recorded

as if to say

this is the best

of who we were

consider this

as we sleep


 

 




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