On my way to Maine, but my poet-in-residence just sent me a terrific poem about Muhammed Ali that I could not pass up.
The Ropey Dopes of Society
He beamed from head to toe,
an Adonis in the know, who signed autographs
at the white Little League Banquet at Deer Lake,
his training camp. Hardly an unsung hero,
still his charismatic presence, sometimes over-riding
our natural sensitivity for the young,
bemoaning his ex-wife’s alimony,
“she was good, but not that good!”
Still the sheen of his tawny pride
in stark contrast to our white anemic skin,
often underwritten by life’s chagrin,
and burdensome reflection
on what might have been.
Cassius Clay led his own way
turned out of the Ghettos at twelve,
body emerging to perfection at eighteen,
an Olympic Champion!
A beauty of a man with an upper hand,
all the survival instincts nestled within
under the tutelage of the boxing ring
remained true to his instincts
where he gained his own voice,
becoming Mohammed Ali by choice;
where the Ropey Dopes became
his base of operation:
ducking and feigning blows,
till the rapid fire of his repeating blows.
In-between, his words purred for the audience
who followed his dream.
Weaving and bobbing, all eyes following the Showman,
raw brown flesh with a touch of fecund tenderness,
“fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
“I am the greatest,”and he never backed away
winning three Boxing Championships along the way.
It became his theme, and so he remained
even when the Public backed away
when he refused to serve in Vietnam,
even when Parkinson’s ended his reign,
he stayed the course, “Rumble in the Jungle,”
“Thrilla in Manila,”———but
creating a Universe of Peaceful Co-existence
with the Scope and Hope of his charities.