All morning, the actors

Anthony Quinn and Mickey Rooney

take sides against Gleason

as to which voice for the fighter—


part saloons and tobacco smoke,

part engineer boots

landing heavy on pavement.

And part Dementia pugilistica.


Gleason / Maish sees the big lummox,

a contender once, Mountain Rivera,

as his last best hope

for evading a beating. (He owes a guy


who knows a guy.) He has to pay up—

we all do—though the template

for redemption

is decency; was all along.


To Maish, it comes down

to laying a bet

on which round

even a winner will go down.


How can he know how it feels

to have only more nothing to put

in the wound nothing closes?

Even a punch-drunk fighter


is smart enough to sniff Doom.

And, sure enough, next fight: Cassius

Clay drops him in seven.

After, in the locker-room,


a bare light bulb glows grievance

and its partially visible

echo. Some things

wear their losses. Some people too.


Photo By: Zach Baranowski