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Ali's Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don't tarnish. It ain't so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, "called a ***** a *****."
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.

Ain't got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can't be lukewarm, 'cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, "Now here's your bullet and your gun,
and there's your cell: we're waiting, you choose one."
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their "future" to the river, child.
I gave their "future" to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

The poem above has been set to music in a YouTube video by Lillian Y. Wong.

You are free to copy the poem for noncommercial use, such as a school project, essay or report, or just because you like it and want to share, but please credit Michael R. Burch as the author.

NOTES: (1) Muhammad Ali said that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after experiencing racism in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep. The Ali family paid $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. Ali later made a joke about the incident that caused him to toss his medal into the river. He said that he took his medal into a white downtown restaurant and ordered a cheeseburger. The waitress told him, "We don't serve negroes." Ali replied, "I don't eat them either. Just bring me a cheeseburger!" (2) When drafted during the Vietnam War, Ali refused induction, reputedly saying: "I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a ******." (3) The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. (4) The poem was originally published by the literary journal Black Medina. It has since been published by Other Voices International, Thanal Online, Freshet, Poems About and Poem List.
Khan BA Sep 2017

I never knew what larceny breeds,
I never learnt to give it any heeds,
It is Sheik Alís amber that just needs
I am nobody it all His deeds.
My teacher painted a painting few could see
But those who did flared with glee
The painting such that it looked like glass
Those who had eyes would see through the moss.

(By: Khan, BA)
Dark n Beautiful Jun 2017
A little nod to
Edgar Guest

When you’re up against a bully
Meet them face to face
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and give them a taste

Never panic or hesitated: aim toward the lower waist
If you fall to the ground, don’t be discourage
It’s just a stumble, its just the adrenaline rush
but never let it weaken you

See it through!
Forget all those stars that circle around you

The Bigger the Ego, the Stronger the Anger
Kick his *** until he/she does the tango
If the worst is going to happened
Let it be Lose or win:
See it through! My friend
it’s birthing time again

Lift your chin and set your shoulder
Get up and plant your feet and make a fist
Kick that bully ***, Feel your inner strength.

Think of Joe Frasier, Ali and Foreman impeccable timing and their knock outs drops:
only a wise poet like me can only wish you the best of luck
Perveiz Ali Apr 2017
Autistic Rainbow

Let me paint my walls in hues of red, blue and yellow,
Inscribing its matrix deep into my marrow,
To lift my soul above the waters of filthy processes,
Counting the complexity of its shades each morning.
In their domain they fumble daily to cope,
And insanely we at times laugh at their struggle,
When in reality it is our inability to understand,
These loving persons who bring innocent love.
Shame on me, as they paint my canvas in colours!
And I miss the opportunity to enjoy their unique joys.
Perveiz Ali Apr 2017
When absurdity is the show,
What else does then remain?
To be branded with the tag,
"Stupid" you are... yeah, stupid I am!
I see the world with clear eyes,
No calling brown black or Tan white.
The moon travels around the sun,
Not the sun travelling across our skies.
I like to call a ***** a *****,
"Stupid you are!!" modernity demands more.
Duality... not my way or inclination,
Even if modernity demands it.
Gone are the days of morality and modesty.
****** seems to be the new trend,
Truth and courage relegated to the rear.
Now if games are not played or graft taken,
A label of "Stupid" is then attached.
Then, it seems that "Stupid"is my moniker,
As such, then, I shall wear the name proudly.
WNG Jun 2016
A man, a movement,
Whose words stung like a Bee,
But had the masses floating to him,
When he spoke about peace,
He shook up the World like he said he would,
And twisted our perceptions of what it meant to be a true hero,
And for that we thank you.
Rest in peace and power, the great Muhammad Ali (1942 - 2016).
Henri Words Jun 2016
The earth needed a punch
To move on
You came

The crowd needed a slap
To wake up
Your poetry slammed

The world needed peace
To live on
You fought

The music non-stopping
In and out the ring
Cos box echoes beyond

Jun 11, 2016
Paul Butters Jun 2016
He floated like a butterfly,
Stang like a bee –
The one and only
Muhammad Ali.
“I’m The Greatest”, he always said,
20th Century Sports Personality,
Put his rivals to bed.

Yes, he WAS the Greatest, that’s for sure.
Above the rest by a massive score.
Faster than a hummingbird,
Slicker than a snake,
Those quick hands of his
They made opponents quake.

He’d get into bed
Before the light went out.
Rarely a whisper,
Usually a shout.

Like a long-distance runner
Ali had the endurance.
Anyone who fought him
Needed lots of insurance.

Ali was great and didn’t he know it.
A witty speaker and amusing poet.
Some of his lines I’ve used right here:
They had his rivals shaking with fear.

No way would Ali fight the Viet Cong.
For that he merits a Nobel Gong.
He was the champion of the oppressed,
A hero with whom we all were blessed.

He had charisma, way beyond sport.
Ali influenced our every thought.
He’ll call into Hell on the way to Heaven,
To knock out Satan, in round seven.

Paul Butters
After a sad weekend during which we lost The Greatest.....
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