R.M. Engelhardt at Restaurant Navona

The Half-Dead Poet Review: DEATHMATCH: Poet vs. Wrestler


So have you ever taken a long look back at all the weird shit that’s ever happened in your life? Thought of the strange or unusual circumstances, the odd occurrences that brought you here in this moment? Met or almost got your ass kicked some famous wrestler?

Well. You’re not alone.

I can tell you some interesting stories. And I have far far too many.

Bizzare and odd stories about heavyweight boxers, professional wrestlers, rock stars and many many way too many drunks. Even a few comedians. Artists. Movie stars.

But no carnies. Never. Not one.

But where do I begin?

Poet vs. WrestlerWell, it was one evening back in the early 1990s when the wrestlers came to town. At 2 am after their showdown at the Pepsi Arena they entered the dance club already drunk, stupid and loud. And among them was the famous Jake The Snake, of course much drunker than the rest.

And his first words towards the beautiful blond female bartender walking through the door were:

” Hey bitch get me a drink!”

And no one said anything. Did anything. Security didn’t do anything. In fact, no one did anything. As Jake proceeded to hurl insults at the lady behind the bar and other women ” see you next Tuesday” in passing. He was the penultimate asshole and his buddies just kept laughing. But all this ended when a certain young poet (who was also somewhat drunk) stepped in. Jake had fans. Jake had followers but Jake wasn’t cool. Jake wasn’t a man. In fact, Jake was in effect a rather large annoying pathetic douchebag who needed a lesson in manners. Now you have to remember that the younger un-gray poetic version of R.M. Engelhardt was still a believer in the outdated idea of chivalry, a fad from the middle ages but I was no white knight. So to continue with this almost near exciting story let me make this very clear: I don’t condone fighting or violence, poets vs. wrestlers, poets vs. dwarfs, poet mud wrestling or any other forms of beatnik martial arts. This includes beat knife fighting, verse boxing or even Bukowski deathmatches. But sometimes? You have to stand up or sit down and be a man. Even if it kills you for really really stupid reasons.

The insults Jake hurled at women went on and only one girl told him to eff off. Jake laughed. Jake became louder. Jake got off on demeaning women. Finally ( and yes I was writing a poem on my drink napkin at the time) I’d had enough of Jake. I grew up in a house with three older sisters and was brought up (not mention smacked) into respecting women. So it goes without saying that Jake had an ass whooping coming and that ass whooping would come from a five foot ten goth poet in a long leather trench. That’s right. A poet.

But this story happened in the real world so there was no spaghetti Western music, no clever fight scene quips, and there was no honor or anything to gain from it all. There were no heroes or villains. Just drunk people. That’s all.

So Jake The Snake. Height: 6′ 5, roughly 270 pounds. Me? Not a wrestler. Not tall. Jake had no snakes that night. Just venom. ” You stupid! (Even more lady hate) ” I then turned, looked at Jake at the end of the bar and in a loud voice said;

“Shut the fuck up you sorry sack of shit!”

And the bar went silent.

An eternity passed in mere seconds.

“What did you say!?” Jake replied in shock.

I said “You’re a rude asshole, shut the fuck up”

Jake’s drunken body started to move towards me from the bar seat. My body without thinking did the same waiting for the first hit. Thoughts raced thru my head. Punch hard to the face. Hard kick to the balls then step on his throat. But this wasn’t a fake TV wrestling match but real survival. Fear. But none of it happened. Jake’s wrestling buddies all grabbed him at once and held him there, held him down screaming like the angry insane fool he was.

We both sat down and glared at each other across the bar. And Jake? Jake said nothing and left shortly thereafter.

Me? I’m still a poet. I’m still alive. Even after all these years.

Jake? Supposedly now a born again Christian who respects women.

Let’s hope that’s all true.