1. the usual run of persons or things; an indistinguishable gathering; jumble
[origin: 15th century; Middle English, heap, pile, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse hraukr rick]
The skies are red before me
And the skies are red behind,
Crimson clouds are roaring o’er me
On the shouting of the wind.
And the world below is swinging
Like a planet all a-fire
But I laugh, for I am winging
Far above the stench and mire.
Slither and crawl
In the gory muck
Writhe and fall
In the battle ruck,
Muddy and bloody, curse and die!
I am aswing on the wings of the sky!
I rend through the veil that batteries cloak
I soar through the swirling world of smoke.
The flame-bursts leap like a fiery fount,
But I laugh, I laugh and I mount! I mount!
Into the oceans of white and blue
Where the wild wind giants hammer and hew.
Where air-fleet crashes on reeling fleet
And Death is racing on flaming feet.
Mid a sea of flame and a roar of strife,
This is Valhalla! This is Life!
[from “The Viking of the Sky“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p.110, The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v3, pp. 481-82; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 58]
1. a Chinese idol or cult image
[origin: ca. 1711; Chinese Pidgin English, from Portuguese dues god, from Latin]
I took an ivory grinning joss,
From a chest of scented sandal wood.
Now where the woven bamboos cross
It stands where a silver idol stood.
We sat beneath the drowsy fronded tree,
From shell-thin cups we sipped our amber tea.
The Mandarin laid his coral button cap
Upon the silken ocean of his lap.
He raised a finger nail with jade ornate
And carved the sky in patterns intricate.
“And so Confucious taught,” it seemed he sighed.
“The man of virtue shuns the paths of pride.
“That joss you boast is evil’s blood relation,
“Begot of demon born abomination.”
The good man sighed and wept and guzzled tea.
I filled his cup with smooth complacency,
Smiled at his measured jests and stroked his cat,
And watched the silk worms fall upon the mat.
And all the time, fanned by the sleepy wind,
The joss looked down and grinned and grinned and grinned.
[from “Sighs in the Yellow Leaves”; to read the whole poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 279 and The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v3, p. 490]
1. an old gold coin of Spain and Spanish America
[origin: 1622; Spanish doblon, augmentative of dobla, an old Spanish coin, from Latin dupla, feminine of duplus double]
“The rotten oars began to creak and sway each in its groove,
The arm bones creaked and bent and swayed—the galley began to move!
The galley leaped like a fleeing deer, straight into the west she sped
As the scarlet sun in a sea of blood sank with a blaze of red.
“The crimson waves cleft to her prow and in behind her spun.
And I saw a world of lurid flames behind the setting sun.
In wild amaze I watched them blaze, leap up and die and flare
Beyond the rim of the fiery sea like things of a wild nightmare.
“No worldly fires could fling such flame and I knew what befell—
As faster and faster the galley sped—she was bearing me into Hell!
Shrieking I hurled me across the rail, I clambered into the boat;
With shaking hands I loosed the chain and pushed her far afloat.
“But the galley altered not her pace, ’twas as she fled the night;
Marveling there I watched her fly, fast dwindling from my sight.
Till far away like some foul bird she stood against the flare,
Then vanished in the red sunset and Hell that waited there.
“The stars came blinking o’er the sea, slow came a slender moon
And I found that I clutched in my shaky hand a tarnished gold doubloon.
The blue waves barely rocked the boat beneath the silver moon;
All night she drifted with the tides as I lay half in a swoon.
[from “Buccaneer Treasure“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 204; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 404; A Word From the Outer Dark, p 167; and Pirate Adventures, p. 71]
A Catholic Missionary circa 1740, Kingdom of Kongo, burning down the house of local “Nganga” / Shaman (Spiritualist)
1 a fetish, charm, or amulet of West African people; the magic attributed to or associated with them
[origin: 1894; of W. African origin; from French jou jou ]
As a great spider grows to monstrous girth
On life-blood sucked from smaller, cringing things,
So Joab Worley, in his plunderings
Of black folk spawned in nakedness and dearth,
Grew great in all the riches prized of earth;
Dwelling in state, a brother to black kings,
In his great throne-hut, safe from spears and slings;
The deep black jungle echoed to his mirth.
Until he dared to go, in drunken pride,
Alone into the ju-ju hut; all round
The black priests trembled and the drums were beat;
At last they, on their bellies crawled inside;
There Joab Worley lay, without a wound,
Stone dead before the leering idol’s feet.
[from “Ju-Ju Doom“; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 164, Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 312 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 123]
(Joe Frazier and Mohammad Ali: Out of all the fighters who have mastered the left hook punch, no one perfected it better than boxing icon, Smoking Joe Frazier!)
1. a punch coming from the side of the body instead of going straight forward; a short blow delivered with a circular motion by a boxer while the elbow remains bent and rigid
[origin: before 12th century; Middle English, from Old English hoc; akin to Middle Dutch hoec fishhook, corner, Lithuanian kenge hook]
He ducks my lead as he surges in
And his left hook crashes against my chin,
And he shuts my eye with a round-house slam
That feels like the bunt of a batterin’ ram.
The lights are swimmin’ and so is the ring;
Blind I fall in clinch and cling;
The referee grunts as he tears us apart,
And I ram a left in under the heart.
And he batters me back across the ring—
Jab and uppercut, hook and swing—
A torrent of smashes that never slack—
I feel the ropes against my back.
[from “In the Ring“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 659 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 276]
1. When a competitor pretends to hit his opponent in one place while trying to land the punch in another; a quick movement made to trick an opponent
[origin: 1644; French feinte, from Old French, from feint, past participle of feindre]
Swift with your mitts and fast on your feet,
There is one battler you never can beat.
You can swing, you can dance, you can side-step and prance;
You can feint, you can lead, but there isn’t a chance
To win a decision from Time.
He is the lad with the flying mitts—
He knows your tricks and he knows your hits.
You may bluff, you may stall, but he’s the greatest of all.
[from “Time, the Victor“; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 667; A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 146 and p. 243]
The Nonpareil Jack Dempsey (John Edward Kelly) (1862-1895)
1. having no equal, unrivaled, matchless
[origin: 15th century; Middle English nounparalle, from Middle French nonpareil, from non– +pareil equal, from Vulgar Latin pariculus, from Latin par equal]
Through the California mountains
And many a wooded vale
The wind from seaward whispers
The name of the Nonpareil.
O’er many a peak snow covered
O’er many a woodland fair
The sea-breeze murmurs the wonderful tale
Of the lad from County Clare.
But never the wind from seaward
And never the brooks of the vale
Can speak the half of the glory,
The due of the Nonpareil.
Champion of all champions,
Greatest in all times’ bounds,
The lad who held Fitzsimmons
For thirteen gory rounds.
But the ring’s red history passes
In a swiftly roving tale,
And there’s few who now remember
The name of the Nonpareil.
But here’s to the greatest of fighters,
To a name that never shall fail,
To the name of the first Jack Dempsey,
The wonderful Nonpareil.
[from “Jack Dempsey“; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 664 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 278]
1. A punch thrown so that the arm comes around and hits the opponent side-on
[origin: 1580-90; round + house]
A couple of hams were having a mill
In Gallegher’s old saloon.
With long left jabs and round house rights
They were playing a merry tune.
One was the Bowery Terror, Murderous Spike McRue,
The other the pride of the whole East Side,
Benny, the Battling Jew.
He’d weigh a scant two hundred pounds,
Yet the crowd was still as a louse
As he smashed a sledge hammer fist on the bar
And bellowed for drinks on the house.
And, “Boys,” said he, “you don’t know me,
And I don’t give a ding.
But Spike, that bloke—just watch my smoke.”
And he bounded into the ring.
Benny he ducked and the stranger swung,
And Benny he hit the floor.
The stranger tore into Spike McRue
And the crowd began to roar.
’Twas a left that lashed and a right that smashed,
And a left and a right again,
And shoulders flat Spike hit the mat
When he took it fair on the chin.
The crowd it cheered but the stranger sneered,
As he stepped to the waiting bar
And took a swig of whiskey, neat,
And lighted a long cigar.
And “Boys,” said he, “I don’t know ye,
And there’s none of youse worth a damn,
But you all know John L. Sullivan,
And that’s the guy I am.”
[from “The Cooling of Spike McRue“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 656 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 273]