Over the long-distance course the four front-runners Race.
Each is persuaded he’s the most fleet-footed,
Each thinks he’ll be the last to falter,
Each wants to mount the lofty podium.
This one is less, that one is more hot-blooded,
But after hearing the final pep-talk speeches,
Each ate about the same amount of spinach,
With no judge needed for a photo finish.
T’will be a battle for the entire length
All being of roughly equal strengtn.
"Say, tell us how they’re doing,
For Pete’s sake?"
"The TV crews are there,
The radio teams as well.
Nothing special to report,
All seems to be swell.
But the crowd’s hotting up
Into quite a frenzy."
Number One’s scorching his sneakers, as a hero must,
Seems to coast downhill, intends with pride,
Crowned like a winner in a blaze of ardour,
To approach the gloaming cup with hardy stride.
What was it that deprived him of deep, high-minded thoughts?
Because when young he ate too little kasha.
As a kid he felt hunger,
Time enough to change -
and off to the gymnasium.
Like it or not, that’s the way it is,
The first to get there get the choicest bits.
As for the loser, what’s to say?
He lost his wager.
Out of kindness I’ll give him
Bones and liver.
Number Two’s far removed from these carnal concerns.
He’s one of the plump, well stuffed and sated,
He dreams of glory, ne dreams of success,
He lifts his knees high, more so than the rest.
He leans into the turn,
almost touching the ramp,
A sight for glad eyes,
he’s clearly a champ.
He’s a master of tactics,
in a word a real pro,
With will-power, strength,
and sheer guts to show.
Precise, concentrated, tense,
He’s not one to kick against the fence.
We’ll see this chap again
We’ll see him on the tele
Teaching little kids.
He’ll compete with Pele
He’s the very model of
Number Three, by now wise and through the mill
- He’s always second - can surely be relied on.
probably fell ill;
His trainer may have felt
a gram of pity.
In his ears resounds the old,
"Listen, this is your last chance,
Like a kid he’s all worked up,
merely needs a fillip.
Give him a good prod -
or else the jig is up.
Suddenly he falls back
Into the rear-guard echelon,
Among the one-time stars,
And the cardiac cases,
Where low-priced are all places
And all pre-booked.
And the Fourth, way out there on the outer lane,
He just runs, not for anything nor anyone.
At times he closes in: Watch it, I’m on your heels!
At times falls back, which is how I want it.
The second won’t receive the laurel
The first won’t taste the juicy
The third one, like a snail,
Will crawl along the supply trail...
How many systems are there
To modern racing?
Suddenly he’s slackened pace
Before the final sprint.
He’s torn off his T-shirt
In unseemly haste.
This runner’s behaviour
Shows deplorable taste.
Over the long distance, the four are still in front,
Nasty and kind-hearted, disinterested and grasping.
To what fancy gods are each of them not praying?
With shoulder blades protruding from their backs,
The front-line foursome whirl along the stretch,
With no judge needed for a photo check.