Monday, 30 May 2011

The Boxing Kangaroo

- for Gedle

Three bored lions
sad as clowns
yawning in a green cage
and a ringmaster
cracking his whip
trying to get their attention . . .

But we kids
we weren't there for the sleepy lions
or the daring dazzling flying trapeze
or the bejeweled elephants
or the sad-faced clowns . . .

Roll up! Roll up! A fiver to any man here
who can go 3 rounds with the Boxing Kangaroo . . .

First up was Jones the Fist
the terror of the weekend pubs -

He rolled-up his sleeves; showed us
muscles like rocks,
arms like jackhammers
fists like sledgehammers.

They gloved him up
and the bell clanged.

From the red corner - Fist.
From out of the blue - the Kangaroo
caught Fist with a hook.

Fist swayed
and fell like a fish.
The count was a mere formality.
A gorilla dragged him away.

Roll up! Roll up! A fiver to any man here
who can go 3 rounds with the Boxing Kangaroo . . .

Next up was Finn the Tarmacer
loud and wide as a road-roller -

The Kangaroo caught him cold.

Finn crumpled and collapsed
like a wrecked car.
The count was a mere formality.
The gorilla hauled him away.

Nobody stepped up
after that.

Wives went home smiling and
The hard men sulked for days.

As for us kids
we all wanted to be kangaroos.

Fist went south - job offer.

And Finn?

Back to the Emerald Isle
with a story to buy the drinks for . . .



  1. Thankyou.

    Especially liked the lions sad as clowns, and the gorilla dragging the tough guys away.

    Circuses just aren't the same now that we have health and safety legislation are they?

  2. I remember those circuses - queuing to get into the big top - the smell - the scary animals. It is all a bit sanitised now - maybe a good thing for the animals wellbeing but not the same. Your poem captures that old feeling well. I would like to have been in that Irish pub to hear the story from the horse's mouth!

  3. Gedle, the changing times, there are many dancing bears in Rumania...but their fate is uncertain. The circus animals - especially the lions - as a child I felt very sorry for - they seemed to be very sleepy probably sedated - at least the the ones we saw...they couldn't even roar and they were clearly depressed.

    Pat, I remember those cages on wheels - some of the animals hardly had room to turn round. Strange that we sat there and laughed at their antics. You'd have to buy him a drink in that pub for the story don't forget... :)


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