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Best Famous Hands Down Poems

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Written by Charles Bukowski | Create an image from this poem

A Challenge To The Dark

 shot in the eye 
shot in the brain 
shot in the *** 
shot like a flower in the dance 

amazing how death wins hands down 
amazing how much credence is given to idiot forms of life 

amazing how laughter has been drowned out 
amazing how viciousness is such a constant 

I must soon declare my own war on their war 
I must hold to my last piece of ground 
I must protect the small space I have made that has allowed me life 

my life not their death 
my death not their death.

Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

That Day

 This is the desk I sit at
and this is the desk where I love you too much
and this is the typewriter that sits before me
where yesterday only your body sat before me
with its shoulders gathered in like a Greek chorus,
with its tongue like a king making up rules as he goes,
with its tongue quite openly like a cat lapping milk,
with its tongue -- both of us coiled in its slippery life.
That was yesterday, that day.
That was the day of your tongue, your tongue that came from your lips, two openers, half animals, half birds caught in the doorway of your heart.
That was the day I followed the king's rules, passing by your red veins and your blue veins, my hands down the backbone, down quick like a firepole, hands between legs where you display your inner knowledge, where diamond mines are buried and come forth to bury, come forth more sudden than some reconstructed city.
It is complete within seconds, that monument.
The blood runs underground yet brings forth a tower.
A multitude should gather for such an edifice.
For a miracle one stands in line and throws confetti.
Surely The Press is here looking for headlines.
Surely someone should carry a banner on the sidewalk.
If a bridge is constructed doesn't the mayor cut a ribbon? If a phenomenon arrives shouldn't the Magi come bearing gifts? Yesterday was the day I bore gifts for your gift and came from the valley to meet you on the pavement.
That was yesterday, that day.
That was the day of your face, your face after love, close to the pillow, a lullaby.
Half asleep beside me letting the old fashioned rocker stop, our breath became one, became a child-breath together, while my fingers drew little o's on your shut eyes, while my fingers drew little smiles on your mouth, while I drew I LOVE YOU on your chest and its drummer and whispered, "Wake up!" and you mumbled in your sleep, "Sh.
We're driving to Cape Cod.
We're heading for the Bourne Bridge.
We're circling the Bourne Circle.
" Bourne! Then I knew you in your dream and prayed of our time that I would be pierced and you would take root in me and that I might bring forth your born, might bear the you or the ghost of you in my little household.
Yesterday I did not want to be borrowed but this is the typewriter that sits before me and love is where yesterday is at.
Written by Robert Bly | Create an image from this poem

Snowfall in the Afternoon


The grass is half-covered with snow.
It was the sort of snowfall that starts in late afternoon And now the little houses of the grass are growing dark.
2 If I reached my hands down near the earth I could take handfuls of darkness! A darkness was always there which we never noticed.
3 As the snow grows heavier the cornstalks fade farther away And the barn moves nearer to the house.
The barn moves all alone in the growing storm.
4 The barn is full of corn and moves toward us now Like a hulk blown toward us in a storm at sea; All the sailors on deck have been blind for many years.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

Old Pardon the Son of Reprieve

 You never heard tell of the story? 
Well, now, I can hardly believe! 
Never heard of the honour and glory 
Of Pardon, the son of Reprieve? 
But maybe you're only a Johnnie 
And don't know a horse from a hoe? 
Well, well, don't get angry, my sonny, 
But, really, a young un should know.
They bred him out back on the "Never", His mother was Mameluke breed.
To the front -- and then stay there - was ever The root of the Mameluke creed.
He seemed to inherit their wiry Strong frames -- and their pluck to receive -- As hard as a flint and as fiery Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve.
We ran him at many a meeting At crossing and gully and town, And nothing could give him a beating -- At least when our money was down.
For weight wouldn't stop him, nor distance, Nor odds, though the others were fast; He'd race with a dogged persistence, And wear them all down at the last.
At the Turon the Yattendon filly Led by lengths at the mile-and-a-half, And we all began to look silly, While her crowd were starting to laugh; But the old horse came faster and faster, His pluck told its tale, and his strength, He gained on her, caught her, and passed her, And won it, hands down, by a length.
And then we swooped down on Menindie To run for the President's Cup; Oh! that's a sweet township -- a shindy To them is board, lodging, and sup.
Eye-openers they are, and their system Is never to suffer defeat; It's "win, tie, or wrangle" -- to best 'em You must lose 'em, or else it's "dead heat".
We strolled down the township and found 'em At drinking and gaming and play; If sorrows they had, why they drowned 'em, And betting was soon under way.
Their horses were good uns and fit uns, There was plenty of cash in the town; They backed their own horses like Britons, And, Lord! how we rattled it down! With gladness we thought of the morrow, We counted our wages with glee, A simile homely to borrow -- "There was plenty of milk in our tea.
" You see we were green; and we never Had even a thought of foul play, Though we well might have known that the clever Division would "put us away".
Experience docet, they tell us, At least so I've frequently heard; But, "dosing" or "stuffing", those fellows Were up to each move on the board: They got to his stall -- it is sinful To think what such villains will do -- And they gave him a regular skinful Of barley -- green barley -- to chew.
He munched it all night, and we found him Next morning as full as a hog -- The girths wouldn't nearly meet round him; He looked like an overfed frog.
We saw we were done like a dinner -- The odds were a thousand to one Against Pardon turning up winner, 'Twas cruel to ask him to run.
We got to the course with our troubles, A crestfallen couple were we; And we heard the " books" calling the doubles -- A roar like the surf of the sea.
And over the tumult and louder Rang "Any price Pardon, I lay!" Says Jimmy, "The children of Judah Are out on the warpath today.
" Three miles in three heats: -- Ah, my sonny, The horses in those days were stout, They had to run well to win money; I don't see such horses about.
Your six-furlong vermin that scamper Half-a-mile with their feather-weight up, They wouldn't earn much of their damper In a race like the President's Cup.
The first heat was soon set a-going; The Dancer went off to the front; The Don on his quarters was showing, With Pardon right out of the hunt.
He rolled and he weltered and wallowed -- You'd kick your hat faster, I'll bet; They finished all bunched, and he followed All lathered and dripping with sweat.
But troubles came thicker upon us, For while we were rubbing him dry The stewards came over to warn us: "We hear you are running a bye! If Pardon don't spiel like tarnation And win the next heat -- if he can -- He'll earn a disqualification; Just think over that now, my man!" Our money all gone and our credit, Our horse couldn't gallop a yard; And then people thought that we did it It really was terribly hard.
We were objects of mirth and derision To folks in the lawn and the stand, Anf the yells of the clever division Of "Any price Pardon!" were grand.
We still had a chance for the money, Two heats remained to be run: If both fell to us -- why, my sonny, The clever division were done.
And Pardon was better, we reckoned, His sickness was passing away, So we went to the post for the second And principal heat of the day.
They're off and away with a rattle, Like dogs from the leashes let slip, And right at the back of the battle He followed them under the whip.
They gained ten good lengths on him quickly He dropped right away from the pack; I tell you it made me feel sickly To see the blue jacket fall back.
Our very last hope had departed -- We thought the old fellow was done, When all of a sudden he started To go like a shot from a gun.
His chances seemed slight to embolden Our hearts; but, with teeth firmly set, We thought, "Now or never! The old un May reckon with some of 'em yet.
" Then loud rose the war-cry for Pardon; He swept like the wind down the dip, And over the rise by the garden The jockey was done with the whip.
The field was at sixes and sevens -- The pace at the first had been fast -- And hope seemed to drop from the heavens, For Pardon was coming at last.
And how he did come! It was splendid; He gained on them yards every bound, Stretching out like a greyhound extended, His girth laid right down on the ground.
A shimmer of silk in the cedars As into the running they wheeled, And out flashed the whips on the leaders, For Pardon had collared the field.
Then right through the ruck he was sailing -- I knew that the battle was won -- The son of Haphazard was failing, The Yattendon filly was done; He cut down The Don and The Dancer, He raced clean away from the mare -- He's in front! Catch him now if you can, sir! And up went my hat in the air! Then loud fron the lawn and the garden Rose offers of "Ten to one on!" "Who'll bet on the field? I back Pardon!" No use; all the money was gone.
He came for the third heat light-hearted, A-jumping and dancing about; The others were done ere they started Crestfallen, and tired, and worn out.
He won it, and ran it much faster Than even the first, I believe; Oh, he was the daddy, the master, Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve.
He showed 'em the method of travel -- The boy sat still as a stone -- They never could see him for gravel; He came in hard-held, and alone.
* * * * * * * But he's old -- and his eyes are grown hollow Like me, with my thatch of the snow; When he dies, then I hope I may follow, And go where the racehorses go.
I don't want no harping nor singing -- Such things with my style don't agree; Where the hoofs of the horses are ringing There's music sufficient for me.
And surely the thoroughbred horses Will rise up again and begin Fresh faces on far-away courses, And p'raps they might let me slip in.
It would look rather well the race-card on 'Mongst Cherubs and Seraphs and things, "Angel Harrison's black gelding Pardon, Blue halo, white body and wings.
" And if they have racing hereafter, (And who is to say they will not?) When the cheers and the shouting and laughter Proclaim that the battle grows hot; As they come down the racecourse a-steering, He'll rush to the front, I believe; And you'll hear the great multitude cheering For Pardon, the son of Reprieve
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

An Idyll of Dandaloo

 On Western plains, where shade is not, 
'Neath summer skies of cloudless blue, 
Where all is dry and all is hot, 
There stands the town of Dandaloo -- 
A township where life's total sum 
Is sleep, diversified with rum.
Its grass-grown streets with dust are deep; 'Twere vain endeavour to express The dreamless silence of its sleep, Its wide, expansive drunkenness.
The yearly races mostly drew A lively crowd at Dandaloo.
There came a sportsman from the East, The eastern land where sportsmen blow, And brought with him a speedy beast -- A speedy beast as horses go.
He came afar in hope to "do" The little town of Dandaloo.
Now this was weak of him, I wot -- Exceeding weak, it seemed to me -- For we in Dandaloo were not The Jugginses we seemed to be; In fact, we rather thought we knew Our book by heart in Dandaloo.
We held a meeting at the bar, And met the question fair and square -- "We've stumped the country near and far To raise the cash for races here; We've got a hundred pounds or two -- Not half so bad for Dandaloo.
"And now, it seems we have to be Cleaned out by this here Sydney bloke, With his imported horse; and he Will scoop the pool and leave us broke.
Shall we sit still, and make no fuss While this chap climbs all over us?" * The races came to Dandaloo, And all the cornstalks from the West On every kind of moke and screw Come forth in all their glory drest.
The stranger's horse, as hard as nails, Look'd fit to run for New South Wales.
He won the race by half a length -- Quite half a length, it seemed to me -- But Dandaloo, with all its strength, Roared out "Dead heat!" most fervently; And, sfter hesitation meet, The judge's verdict was "Dead heat!" And many men there were could tell What gave the verdict extra force.
The stewards -- and the judge as well -- They all had backed the second horse.
For things like this they sometimes do In larger towns than Dandaloo.
They ran it off, the stranger won, Hands down, by near a hundred yards.
He smiled to think his troubles done; But Dandaloo held all the cards.
They went to scale and -- cruel fate -- His jockey turned out under weight.
Perhaps they's tampered with the scale! I cannot tell.
I only know It weighed him out all right.
I fail To paint that Sydney sportsman's woe.
He said the stewards were a crew Of low-lived thieves in Dandaloo.
He lifted up his voice, irate, And swore till all the air was blue; So then we rose to vindicate The dignity of Dandaloo.
"Look here," said we, "you must not poke Such oaths at us poor country folk.
" We rode him softly on a rail, We shied at him, in careless glee, Some large tomatoes, rank and stale, And eggs of great antiquity -- Their wild, unholy fregrance flew About the town of Dandaloo.
He left the town at break of day, He led his racehorse through the streets, And now he tells the tale, they say, To every racing man he meets.
And Sydney sportsmen all eschew The atmosphere of Dandaloo.

Written by Gerard Manley Hopkins | Create an image from this poem


 How lovely the elder brother's
Life all laced in the other's,
Lóve-laced!—what once I well
Witnessed; so fortune fell.
When Shrovetide, two years gone, Our boys' plays brought on Part was picked for John, Young Jóhn: then fear, then joy Ran revel in the elder boy.
Their night was come now; all Our company thronged the hall; Henry, by the wall, Beckoned me beside him: I came where called, and eyed him By meanwhiles; making my play Turn most on tender byplay.
For, wrung all on love's rack, My lad, and lost in Jack, Smiled, blushed, and bit his lip; Or drove, with a diver's dip, Clutched hands down through clasped knees— Truth's tokens tricks like these, Old telltales, with what stress He hung on the imp's success.
Now the other was bráss-bóld: Hé had no work to hold His heart up at the strain; Nay, roguish ran the vein.
Two tedious acts were past; Jack's call and cue at last; When Henry, heart-forsook, Dropped eyes and dared not look.
Eh, how áll rúng! Young dog, he did give tongue! But Harry—in his hands he has flung His tear-tricked cheeks of flame For fond love and for shame.
Ah Nature, framed in fault, There 's comfort then, there 's salt; Nature, bad, base, and blind, Dearly thou canst be kind; There dearly thén, deárly, I'll cry thou canst be kind.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

How The Favourite Beat Us

 "Aye," said the boozer, "I tell you it's true, sir, 
I once was a punter with plenty of pelf, 
But gone is my glory, I'll tell you the story 
How I stiffened my horse and got stiffened myself.
"'Twas a mare called the Cracker, I came down to back her, But found she was favourite all of a rush, The folk just did pour on to lay six to four on, And several bookies were killed in the crush.
"It seems old Tomato was stiff, though a starter; They reckoned him fit for the Caulfield to keep.
The Bloke and the Donah were scratched by their owner, He only was offered three-fourths of the sweep.
"We knew Salamander was slow as a gander, The mare could have beat him the length of the straight, And old Manumission was out of condition, And most of the others were running off weight.
"No doubt someone 'blew it', for everyone knew it, The bets were all gone, and I muttered in spite, 'If I can't get a copper, by Jingo, I'll stop her, Let the public fall in, it will serve the brutes right.
' "I said to the jockey, 'Now, listen, my cocky, You watch as you're cantering down by the stand, I'll wait where that toff is and give you the office, You're only to win if I lift up my hand.
' "I then tried to back her -- 'What price is the Cracker?' 'Our books are all full, sir,' each bookie did swear; My mind, then, I made up, my fortune I played up I bet every shilling against my own mare.
"I strolled to the gateway, the mare, in the straight way Was shifting and dancing, and pawing the ground, The boy saw me enter and wheeled for his canter, When a darned great mosquito came buzzing around.
"They breed 'em at Hexham, it's risky to vex 'em, They suck a man dry at a sitting, no doubt, But just as the mare passed, he fluttered my hair past, I lifted my hand, and I flattened him out.
"I was stunned when they started, the mare simply darted Away to the front when the flag was let fall, For none there could match her, and none tried to catch her -- She finished a furlong in front of them all.
"You bet that I went for the boy, whom I sent for The moment he weighed and came out of the stand -- "Who paid you to win it? Come, own up this minute.
" "Lord love yer," said he, "why, you lifted your hand.
" `'Twas true, by St Peter, that cursed 'muskeeter' Had broke me so broke that I hadn't a brown, And you'll find the best course is when dealing with horses To win when you're able, and keep your hands down.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

The Mylora Elopement

 By the winding Wollondilly where the weeping willows weep, 
And the shepherd, with his billy, half awake and half asleep, 
Folds his fleecy flocks that linger homewards in the setting sun 
Lived my hero, Jim the Ringer, "cocky" on Mylora Run.
Jimmy loved the super's daughter, Miss Amelia Jane McGrath.
Long and earnestly he sought her, but he feared her stern papa; And Amelia loved him truly -- but the course of love, if true, Never yet ran smooth or duly, as I think it ought to do.
Pondering o'er his predilection, Jimmy watched McGrath, the boss, Riding past his lone selection, looking for a station 'oss That was running in the ranges with a mob of outlaws wild.
Mac the time of day exchanges -- off goes Jim to see his child; Says, "The old man's after Stager, which he'll find is no light job, And tomorrow I will wager he will try and yard the mob.
Will you come with me tomorrow? I will let the parson know, And for ever, joy or sorrow, he will join us here below.
"I will bring the nags so speedy, Crazy Jane and Tambourine, One more kiss -- don't think I'm greedy -- good-bye, lass, before I'm seen -- Just one more -- God bless you, dearie! Don't forget to meet me here, Life without you is but weary; now, once more, good-bye, my dear.
" * * * * * The daylight shines on figures twain That ride across Mylora Plain, Laughing and talking -- Jim and Jane.
"Steady, darling.
There's lots of time, Didn't we slip the old man prime! I knew he'd tackle that Bowneck mob, I reckon he'll find it too big a job.
They've beaten us all.
I had a try, But the warrigal devils seem to fly.
That Sambo's a real good but of stuff No doubt, but not quite good enough.
He'll have to gallop the livelong day, To cut and come, to race and stay.
I hope he yards 'em, 'twill do him good; To see us going I don't think would.
" A turn in the road and, fair and square, They meet the old man standing there.
"What's up?" "Why, running away, of course," Says Jim, emboldened.
The old man turned, His eye with wild excitement burned.
"I've raced all day through the scorching heat After old Bowneck: and now I'm beat.
But over that range I think you'll find The Bowneck mob all run stone-blind.
Will you go, and leave the mob behind? Which will you do? Take the girl away, Or ride like a white man should today, And yard old Bowneck? Go or stay?" Says Jim, "I can't throw this away, We can bolt some other day, of course -- Amelia Jane, get off that horse! Up you get, Old Man.
Whoop, halloo! Here goes to put old Bowneck through!" Two distant specks om the mountain side, Two stockwhips echoing far and wide.
Amelia Jane sat down and cried.
* * * * * "Sakes, Amelia, what's up now? Leading old Sambo, too, I vow, And him deadbeat.
Where have you been? 'Bolted with Jim!' What do you mean> 'Met the old man with Sambo, licked From running old Bowneck.
' Well, I'm kicked -- 'Ran 'em till Sambo nearly dropped?' What did Jim do when you were stopped? Did you bolt from father across the plain? 'Jim made you get off Crazy Jane! And father got on, and away again The two of 'em went to the ranges grim.
' Good boy, Jimmy! Oh, well done, Jim! They're sure to get them now, of course, That Tambourine is a spanking horse.
And Crazy Jane is good as gold.
And Jim, they say, rides pretty bold -- Not like your father, but very fair.
Jim will have to follow the mare.
" "It never was yet in father's hide To best my Jim on the mountain side.
Jim can rally, and Jim can ride.
" But here again Amelia cried.
* * * * * The sound of whip comes faint and far, A rattle of hoofs, and here they are, In all their tameless pride.
The fleet wild horses snort and fear, And wheel and break as the yard draws near.
Now, Jim the Ringer, ride! Wheel 'em! wheel 'em! Whoa back there, whoa! And the foam flakes fly like the driven snow, As under the whip the horses go Adown the mountain side.
And Jim, hands down, and teeth firm set, On a horse that never has failed him yet, Is after them down the range.
Well ridden! well ridden! they wheel -- whoa back! And long and loud the stockwhips crack, Their flying course they change; "Steadily does it -- let Sambo go! Open those sliprails down below.
Smart! or you'll be too late.
* * * * * "They'll follow old Sambo up -- look out! Whee! that black horse -- give Sam a clout.
They're in! Make fast the gate.
" * * * * * The mob is safely in the yard! The old man mounts delighted guard.
No thought has he but for his prize.
* * * * * Jim catches poor Amelia's eyes.
"Will you come after all? The job is done, And Crazy Jane is fit to run For a prince's life -- now don't say no; Slip on while the old man's down below At the inner yard, and away we'll go.
Will you come, my girl?" "I will, you bet; We'll manage this here elopement yet.
" * * * * * By the winding Wollondilly stands the hut of Ringer Jim.
And his loving little Meely makes a perfect god of him.
He has stalwart sons and daughters, and, I think, before he's done, There'll be numerous "Six-fortys" taken on Mylora Run.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

The Passing of Gundagai

 "I'll introduce a friend!" he said, 
"And if you've got a vacant pen 
You'd better take him in the shed 
And start him shearing straight ahead; 
He's one of these here quiet men.
"He never strikes -- that ain't his game; No matter what the others try He goes on shearing just the same.
I never rightly knew his name -- We always call him 'Gundagai!'" Our flashest shearer then had gone To train a racehorse for a race; And, while his sporting fit was on He couldn't be relied upon, So Gundagai shore in his place.
Alas for man's veracity! For reputations false and true! This Gundagai turned out to be For strife and all-round villainy The very worst I ever knew! He started racing Jack Devine, And grumbled when I made him stop.
The pace he showed was extra fine, But all those pure-bred ewes of mine Were bleeding like a butcher's shop.
He cursed the sheep, he cursed the shed, From roof to rafter, floor to shelf: As for my mongrel ewes, he said, I ought to get a razor-blade And shave the blooming things myself.
On Sundays he controlled a "school", And played "two-up" the livelong day; And many a young confiding fool He shore of his financial wool; And when he lost he would not pay.
He organised a shearers' race, And "touched" me to provide the prize.
His pack-horse showed surprising pace And won hands down -- he was The Ace, A well-known racehorse in disguise.
Next day the bruiser of the shed Displayed an opal-tinted eye, With large contusions on his head, He smiled a sickly smile, and said He's "had a cut at Gundagai!" But, just as we were getting full Of Gundagai and all his ways, A telgram for "Henry Bull" Arrived.
Said he, "That's me -- all wool! Let's see what this here message says.
" He opened it; his face grew white, He dropped the shears and turned away It ran, "Your wife took bad last night; Come home at once -- no time to write, We fear she may not last the day.
" He got his cheque -- I didn't care To dock him for my mangled ewes; His store account, we called it square, Poor wretch! he had enough to bear, Confronted by such dreadful news.
The shearers raised a little purse To help a mate, as shearers will.
"To pay the doctor and the nurse.
And, if there should be something worse, To pay the undertaker's bill.
" They wrung his hand in sympathy, He rode away without a word, His head hung down in misery .
A wandering hawker passing by Was told of what had just occurred.
"Well! that's a curious thing," he siad, "I've known that feller all his life -- He's had the loan of this here shed! I know his wife ain't nearly dead, Because he hasn't got a wife!" You should have heard the whipcord crack As angry shearers galloped by; In vain they tried to fetch him back -- A little dust along the track Was all they saw of "Gundagai".