Going to Muhammad

 

I shook the hand

which shook the world

 

“I shook up the World!”

He once hollered

 

The hand of the man-child

Who destroyed Liston with a phantom punch

 

The hand from Allah which felled

Foreman beneath an African sky

 

Thought invincible monsters,

Yet slain like sheep

 

On the ropes

 

The hand which once struck like death

Now shakes involuntary sweat

From its tremor

 

The Man who renounced his slave name

Refused to be moulded like Clay

For the white, rich man’s,

Stone Age War

 

“No Vietcong ever called me Nigger”

He famously said.

 

And further, defiantly, he questioned

“Why should a black man

Travel thousands of miles

To kill the yellow man

On behalf of the white man?”

 

Unanswerable, rhetorical

 

They sentenced him to prison

They took away his license

They took away his livelihood

They stole his athletic peak

 

And made him a Hero

 

As a child,

I watched with dad,

Entranced,

As he danced

Poetic verbal rings

Around Michael Parkinson

 

Now that once mighty voice

Is all but stilled

Reduced to barely audible whispers

Parkinson’s revenge?

 

Yet as I shook

That giant

Gentle

Shaking hand

 

And looked into those beautiful, boyish

Still playful eyes

 

And saw him slow-motion shuffle

To stroke the hair of a child

 

I knew I’d shaken

The hand of Greatness

 

“I am the Greatest!”

He often proclaimed

 

He was

And is

 

The Eternal Champ’

Black and Proud

And strong and free

 

Muhammad Ali

Ali!

Ali!