Bait

They say he was a legend in the South.
He looks the part: his fur like copper wire,
his claws like razors and, in his red mouth,
his teeth like rocks. His bloodshot eyes like fire.

He looks the part? His fur like copper wire?
There's more to winning than a glossy coat.
His teeth like rocks? His bloodshot eyes like fire?
His eyes will dim when some dog's at his throat.

There's more to winning than a glossy coat.
We'll see what sort of beast he is tonight.
His eyes will dim when some dog's at his throat,
if any dog gets past his claws to bite.

We'll see what sort of beast he is, tonight
at six o' clock. The bear pit near the Crown.
If any dog gets past his claws to bite,
I'll eat my hat. Look: here's my money down.

At six o' clock. The bear pit. Near the Crown.
The crowd is restless: something's in the air.
"I'll eat my hat." "Look!" "Here's my money down."
"Look at the brute." "They're bringing on the bear!"

The crowd is restless. Something's in the air
this evening: murmurs, gasps, and jeers. They all
look at the brute. They're bringing on the bear.
He shambles in. A legend's going to fall

this evening. Murmurs, gasps, and jeers. They all
now understand the score. The owner too,
he shambles in. A legend's going to fall.
He has to play his part: he must go through.

Now, understand the score. The owner, too
unwisely and too soon proposed his beast.
He has to play his part. He must go through
this pantomime. The dogs will have a feast.

Unwisely and too soon proposed his beast:
the words sound in his head. Why is he in
this pantomime? The dogs will have a feast.
He's taken on the best: the bear can't win.

The words sound in his head. Why is he in
a stuffy, sweaty pit? He sounds deranged.
He's taken on the best. The bear can't win
against these dogs. The bookies' odds have changed.

A stuffy, sweaty pit. He sounds deranged.
The bear is challenged formally to fight
against these dogs. The bookies' odds have changed:
there'll be some heavy losses here tonight.

The bear is challenged formally to fight
four muzzled, iron-collared, killer hounds.
There'll be some heavy losses here tonight.
The air is filled with shrill, inhuman sounds.

Four muzzled, iron-collared, killer hounds:
Fang, Jasper, Trojan, and the famous Grip.
The air is filled with shrill, inhuman sounds.
They're straining, waiting for the call "Let slip."

Fang, Jasper, Trojan, and the famous Grip:
between them they've killed lesser dogs, bears, men.
They're straining , waiting for the call "Let slip";
they're lusting for the chance to kill again.

Between them they've killed lesser dogs, bears, men.
Their muzzles are removed: they start to bay.
They're lusting for the chance to kill again.
The bear's owner is scared. His face is grey.

Their muzzles are removed. They start to bay.
The bear looks apathetic, dull, resigned.
The bear's owner is scared. His face is grey.
The dogs are crazed, and with their hate, half-blind.

The bear looks apathetic, dull, resigned,
until the moment when the leads are cut.
The dogs are crazed, and with their hate, half-blind:
the death of one - bear's claw sliced through its gut.

Until the moment when the leads are cut
the dogs are confident. They're not so sure:
the death of one - bear's claw sliced through its gut.
They back off, snarl. One dead. How many more?

The dogs are confident. They're not so sure
the bear can take the heat. He swipes again:
they back off. Snarl. One dead. How many more
will die tonight? Three frenzied dogs remain.

The bear can take the heat. He swipes again.
He misses. And the crowd roars: this great creature
will die tonight. Three frenzied dogs remain.
Fang leaps. He's fearless: caution's not a feature.

He misses. And the crowd roars. This great creature:
there's more fight in him than there seemed. Once more
Fang leaps. He's fearless. Caution's not a feature
that's any part of him. Hear the bear roar:

there's more fight in him than there seemed. Once more,
claws scythe. Connect. Slice dog flesh. It's all pain,
that's any part of him. Hear the bear roar.
Two down. Bear weakens. Dogs sense this. Again

claws scythe. Connect. Slice dog flesh. It's all pain;
blood soaking fur; teeth; bone; screams. All hope gone.
Two down. Bear weakens. Dogs sense this. Again:
Attack. Slash. Bite. Somehow, there's only one.

Blood soaking fur. Teeth. Bone. Screams. All hope gone,
he staggers like a drunken man. He drops.
Attack. Slash. Bite. Somehow, there's only one.
Blood gushes. This one falls sightless. It stops.

He staggers like a drunken man. He drops
his claws like razors, and from his red mouth
blood gushes. This one falls. Sightless. It stops.
They say he was a legend in the South.


This page is maintained by and copyright by Peter Howard (Contact Peter)