I walked up to a man with a beer in his hand,
He looked like a drunken fool
And I knew that if I hit him right,
I could knock him off his stool;
But everybody said, "Hey, watch out
That's Tiger Man NcCool
He's had a whole lot of fights
And he always come out the winner.
Well, I'd had myself about five too many
And I stepped up tall and proud,
Facin' his back, facin' the fact
That he had never stooped nor bowed.
I said, "Tiger Man, you're a pussycat!"
And a hush fell on the crowd,
I said, "Let's you and me step outside
And see who's the winner."
Well, he gripped the bar with one big hairy hand,
He leaned against the wall,
Slowly, he stood up from his chair
My God! That man was tall.
He said, "Boy, I see you're a scrapper
So just before you fall,
I'm gonna tell you just what it means
To be a winner.
Well, you see these bright white smiling teeth
You know they ain't my own
Mine rolled away like Chiclets
Down a street in San Antone.
But I left that person cursin'
Nursin' seven broken bones
And he only broke three of mine,
So I guess that makes me the winner.
Now behind this grin, I got a steel pin
That holds my jaw in place,
It's a trophy of my most successful
And every morning, when I awake
I see this scar across my face
It reminds me of all I got
By bein' a winner.
Yes my broken back was the dyin' act
Of Handsome Harry Clay,
That sticky Cincinnatti night
I stole his wife away.
And you know, son, she gets meaner
And uglier every day,
But I got her, boy,
And that's what makes me the winner.
Well, you have to speak loud when you challenge me, son,
You know it's hard for me to hear,
With this twisted neck and this migraine pain
And this cauliflower ear.
And if it wasn't for this glass eye of mine,
Why I'd shed a happy tear
To think of what you're gonna get
By bein' a winner.
I got ar-thur-it-ic elbows,
I've got dislocated knees,
From pickin' fights with thunderstorms
And chargin' into trees.
And my nose been broke so often
I might lose it if I sneeze.
Son, you still say you want to
Be a winner?
Well, you remind me a lot of my younger days
With your knuckles clenchin' white,
But boy, I'm gonna sit right here
And sip this beer all night.
And if you've got something to gain or prove
By winnin' some silly fight,
Well OK. I quit. I lose.
You're the winner."
I stumbled from that barroom
Not so tall and not so proud;
And behind me I still hear the hoots
And hollers of the crowd.
But my nose still works and my eyes still see
And my teeth are still in my mouth
And, you know, I guess that makes me
note: This is a folk-processed, shortened version. See WINNR2 for original.
Copyright Shel Silverstein
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