The Fighting Cock’s Tale

I glad you takin’ my photo for posterity

’cause I’m the best fighting cock you will ever see:

the name is ‘Lightning Jack’, but the folks ’bout here

does call me ‘Lighter’ for short, a name to strike fear

in the hearts of all the fowl folk within range

of my morning crow–but let me tell you the strange

tale of the first of my fifteen unbeaten fights to the death

(relax, you got the time: the hikers catchin’ they breath)…

They put me to fight a cock named ‘Bantam Bill’,

a loud-mouth idiot from down Coggins Hill:

early morning you coulda hear him crowing bout the place,

telling all o’ St Andrew that is a “damn disgrace”

that there ain’t no cock in the parish that got the guts

to face him in the ring with no “ifs”, “ands” or “buts”…

Well, my master sign me up to face him one night

–him the so-called champ, and me in my first fight:

all the punters betting heavily on Bantam Bill

saying that there ain’t no valley, nor any hill

that can produce a bird that can take away his crown…

Well, when he walk in the ring and I look down

I see two shunna-foots scratching at the ground

and I throw back my head with a derisive crow:

“no shunna-foot poppet going beat me just so!”

Well right away he get vex and fly at me wild,

spurs raking the air, ’cause he miss by a mile

when I side-step neatly, and as soon as he land

I drive a spur in his craw and rake another cross his neck,

and in no time at all he was a bleeding wreck…

Man when I was done wid he all they could do

was pluck his ass and pelt him in a stew

–and I hear say he din even taste too nice,

though they serve him with pie and peas-and-rice…

Well now you up-to-date on the cock-fighting scene

enjoy the rest of your hike, and if you spot Doreen

(a sexy red hen) scratchin’ bout the next-door yard,

tell she Lighter callin’ she NOW, an if she think it hard

to come and talk to the man through this chicken wire

come mating time she might find her desire

unquenched–and him treading her best friend Mariah!!

–Mark McWatt

Note: Making our way back to the road near Chalky Mount, St Andrew, we came across this small cylindrical cage made of blue chicken wire, with the fowlcock in it. When I enquired why he might be in such solitary confinement, someone suggested that he was a prized fighting cock… Some time later, as I looked at the photo, the poem came…

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