By Peter R
A rheumatic July morning,
canvas hung and tensioned -
wrapped in bandages like half lived dreams.
Knuckles sinewed with frostbite
Ready to begin the blood-sport basse danse.
Life squeezed from syringes,
ichor infused with prednisone -
lets the xenophobic ballet begin.
Frayed stitches loosen their grip.
Streaks age the mottled leather,
yet the bag sings in flight
Huddled and slumped.
An ephemeral embrace.
Follows a blindside to unguarded ribs.
Transfigured for a time
in salted torment.
Brothers at arm’s length,
both versed in this dance.
This poem was awarded First Place (Teacher) for Poetry Object 2017
"A poem potent and sad and wealthy with metaphoric language, 'Canvas' employs the organising ideas of song and dance to remember bouts of boxing performed over years in what feels like an empty gym on 'a rheumatic July morning'. A poem of powerful suggestion, line after line of fine and suggestive, delicate yet uncompromising imagery: 'bandages like half-lived dreams'; 'the blood-sport basse danse'; 'life squeezed from syringes,/ ichor infused with prednisone—/ lets the xenophobic ballet begin'; 'Frayed stitches loosen their grip [as if the scene is letting the memories, the violence and courage and grace, leak forth];' yet the bag sings in flight'; 'Transfigured for a time/ in salted torment [as if, again, the ring is letting the bouts, both elegant and brutal, slip]'. The poem holds and articulates without judgment a tension between the contradictions inherent in so much of human behaviour.
~ Mark Tredinnick, Judge, Poetry Object 2017
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