Ring Glory: A Soldier’s Tale Gilded by Time

Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat! – Gorgeous George, wrestler

the wayward rolling tumbleweed
homeless veteran, nerdy look
ruminates writing, reading
tall, shock of white lamb chops

squeezing out time, narration
went to US Army because of
hostages, Iran, Carter and Khomeini
days of cocaine and contras

this man floods back
started at four stuffing envelopes
mother sending info gettin’ to
Selma, Alabama bus rides

book by its cover, not
this guy sitting with computer
small dog of China
at his side, down and out
maybe, reader be judge

he tried his hand at Gorgeous
George wrestling, old grand dad
liking that squat bleached blond
hero of TV, the rings, the ropes
Muhhamad Ali dancing
like a butterfly, stinging
like Gorgeous George’s mouth
Bob Dylan rifted Gorgeous
keep the crowd pissed off

my veteran Buzz Saw wrestling
federation of hard-scrabble
wrestlers, smokes, booze
living town-to-town
life, my veteran dances like
a beetle, stings like a house fly

yet where do people get
to meet guys with three cats’ lives
they come and go, but this buddy
vet is wanting a book on George Wagner
curls, burly voice, the acting

veteran now housed in shelter
massive heart attack, not old man
glory days behind him, stories
to tell, journeys to take

writes and writes
the great American novel
maybe Gorgeous George
character drop-kicking
into PT Barnum history

my vet, writing class
charged with 30 years
chalk of rings, endless
tour buses, comradery

he’ll break out
hold hands of Alzheimer
mother, shake hands
in center of some ring
flying off ring post
breaking through to another
cat’s life, words in hand
lives worth narrating

• Author’s Note: Part of a poetry and fiction/non-fiction writing workshop at homeless veteran shelter

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.