Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


You Can't Put Muhammad Ali in a Poem

If you did—

                        it would
                       
                                    knock you down (remember Liston) &

            if

             you were

               still stand

                        ing                   you would

                                                                        have to

bust out (remember the March on Washington)

                                    of your shakin' vaulted            

            poor thinkin' self (oh yes!)

                                                & change (that's right!)

this big 'ol world (say it!)

  & if                            you did—   You (yes, you)

          would have to battle w/words & rhymes & body & time—for

your New Idea—(did you hear that )  you would
           
                                                               have to

  endure    (i hear you )  & propose (what?)
                       
                                    a new name for                        all

( a new name?)

it could be Peace

               it could be Unity (sounds easy)

                        but this poem     cannot

                                                            provide this
                                                           
                                                              or       contain this

  Word        —(Watch out!)

here it comes!  &

                         (it's gonna to sting like a bee)

Credit


Copyright © 2016 by Juan Felipe Herrera. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is the Poet Laureate of the United States. He served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

Date Published: 2016-11-14

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/you-cant-put-muhammad-ali-poem