Most fights were hardly gladiatorial,
wrestling jousts until the one pinned ceded,
These rituals of strength presaged our future,
the ether through which we were about to plummet.
Keen for peer approval I usually excelled,
good at sport, rash, while he was sound, calm.
We rode the same bus, neither friends nor enemies.
Expecting to win I was soon discomfited,
shielded within the circus from teachers.
The years grind us. I read his name, remember
his precocious ambition to be a cop.
He has shot dead a criminal during a siege.
On the run from sad times I reflect
how simply giving in ended youthful foolishness.
Far afterward, news with his name again,
this time a wheat silo, a rural shift,
his attempts to rescue two boys from suffocation.
Do distant echoes blister his quiet moments,
the price we sometimes pay for our dreams?
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in , Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Cream City Review, New Contrast, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.