Called to their places the arm wrestlers emerge
From the crowd. Some go on walkabout
Strutting their stuff, conducting their own brand
Of psychological warfare. Others wait eagerly
Like greyhounds, for the off.
The combatants grip the coloured pegs, holding tight
As pincers, maintaining posture for the battle.
An outward calm descends upon them
And the crowd, as attitudes are revealed.
Subdued but watchful like hunting tigers
The wrestlers shake hands perfunctorily
Awaiting the signal.
Those who smile, smile grimly; some hardly look.
Others in boxer fashion eye-ball their opponents
Hoping snake-like to mesmerise.
Gripping hands is all important;
(no hand shake this) and much play is made
of getting this aright.
“Go” says the ref , and biceps bulge as battle
is begun. Lat muscles strain under the skin
taut as a drum.
Scenario of controlled aggression!
Nerve and sinew pitched to the utmost
The contest wavers or a temporary stalemate reached.
A hand is down; the winner is magnanimous
In victory. The loser`s not disgraced,
Shakes hands again, and disappears in the crowd.
The winner gets his trophy for the contest
Thinking of the next.

© A.B. Finlay Ph.D