Pugilist at Best

From a photo of Gavin Stephen Lambert Sr. (my grandfather)

Your arms up in a boxer’s pose, hands loose fists;
a black-and-white photo circa nineteen-
forty, but I can tell your eyes were pale
blue, like no one who followed you. Granny’s
Northern Irish blood intervened, gave us
all a dark Celtic complexion, smothered
out the Anglo-Saxon blue. Genetics
is like that, brutal, like your loose fists
that tightened on impact. This picture doesn’t
say much: poor white boy, mid-thirties, handsome,
arrogant, bad with money. How much did
the photo booth charge, who went hungry or
without so that you could play at winning?
Who taught you that pose, the total knockout?


  1. The imagery is vivid. Excellently crafted poem.

  2. Thanks, Cassandra!

  3. Nice work. makes me think of Rilke and Carver doing a similar thing, and yours is right up there with them.

  4. Simon, that’s some pretty steep company. Thanks for the comment!

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