Ode to Gorilla Monsoon

Bob Varettoni
2 min readFeb 4, 2023


Two boys wrestling in a cornfield, AI-generated image.
AI image generated by DALL-E 2

We traveled through seven man-made holes
in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Heading west, Dad squinted behind Saratoga Ray Bans:
The last cold warrior, the Republican JFK.

Dad was behind the wheel of our black Chevy Impala,
his hands recklessly at 12 and 6.
He said it gave him more control,
as Hank Williams crackled “I Saw the Light” across WINB AM.

Beads of sweat formed on Dad’s clean-shaven cheek,
releasing the incense of Old Spice.
Our car leaked smoke from his Micronite-filtered Kents
rising from a half-inch crack in the driver’s side window.

Arriving from New Jersey at dusk,
we parked in front of a modest house atop Mount Pleasant,
and my uncle rushed to place cinder blocks
behind our low-slung wheels.

The next morning, amid cornstalks on a hillside,
my cousin and I wrestled, diurnal primates at play.
His hero was Bruno Sammartino,
and I was a poor substitute for Gorilla Monsoon.

I am not a fighter.
I ate a mule kick on my cousin’s follow-through,
as Dad watched in the distance.
He flicked his cigarette to his feet and turned his back on me.

I was always a sucker for a sucker punch.
I woke this morning
threescore years and precisely 338 miles away,
with a phantom pain in my side.

I am the Survivor Series antihero.
And I remember everything.

Originally posted, with some backstory, on my blog.



Bob Varettoni

Posting here about writing, books, tech, family, baseball. More about me at bvarcommunications.com