On the George Bellows painting
Emerging wet-on-wet from black to blood,
The fighter tangles, pounds into the light
Of his opponent, arching in a flood
Of shadow and cigar smoke as the fight
has drawn a club in force, tuxedo-clad.
And yes, that urchin in the foreground, head
Foreshortened, turns to us and laughs. A bad
Banana, him. We’ll watch the crowd instead,
Where clubmen in their truest nature rise
In slaps of pancake carbon black and zinc
To orchestrate the background as a blunt
Ballet of Swing-an-Arm-Before-You-Think.
And some fall out, and those we recognize,
Delighted as that bastard in the front.