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Jack May Sep 2020
Clubbing blows, given and received
Night after night, day after day
Physically, mentally
Socially, politically
The audacity to believe he could make it
The greatest
The dedication to follow through on his promise
The greatest
The audacity to call the white man the devil
And the humility to apologise
Wrong is really wrong when you can’t admit it
Just another side shuffle from the man with the world’s fastest hands
Floating like a butterfly, this way and that

Flawed? Of course
Who isn’t?
Why our insistence on holding our idols to standards that we ourselves can’t meet?
Of course flawed, but the greatest nonetheless
If nowhere else but in his own mind
Where else matters?
Who cares what the world says when you yourself know yourself to be great?

With the belief that he is great comes the ability to act as if he is great
The greatest knows his greatness and desires the world to join him

Being the greatest
If only in his own mind
Freed him from the shackles
Freed him from the chains
Enabled him to stand and fight
And echo the famous words around the world
Filling the ears, hearts and minds of all who would listen
Young, old, black, white and everything in between
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Ali's Song
by Michael R. Burch

for Muhammad Ali

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.

For Ali, Fighting Time
by Michael R. Burch

So now your speech is not as clear . . .
time took its toll each telling year . . .
and O how tragic that your art,
so brutal, broke your savage heart.

But we who cheered each blow that fell
within that ring of torrent hell
never dreamed to see you maimed,
bowed and bloodied, listless, tamed.

For you were not as other men
as we cheered and cursed you then;
no, you commanded dreams and time—
blackgold Adonis, bold, sublime.

And once your glory leapt like fire—
pure and potent. No desire
ever burned as fierce or bright.
Oh Ali, Ali . . . win this fight!

(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)
—Michael R. Burch

The poem above was written in response to the Quora question: “Can you write a poem titled “Me”?

In My House
by Michael R. Burch

I was once the only caucasian in the software company I founded and managed. I had two fine young black programmers working for me, and they both had keys to my house. This poem looks back to the dark days of slavery and the Civil War it produced.

When you were in my house
you were not free—
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.

This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.

I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.

We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina

Poet to poet
by Michael R. Burch

This poem imagines a discussion between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke so poetically about his dream of equality, and a poet who speaks in parentheses.

I have a dream
(pebbles in a sparkling sand)
of wondrous things.

I see children
(variations of the same man)
playing together.

Black and yellow, red and white,
(stone and flesh, a host of colors)
together at last.

I see a time
(each small child another's cousin)
when freedom shall ring.

I hear a song
(sweeter than the sea sings)
of many voices.

I hear a jubilation
(respect and love are the gifts we must bring)
shaking the land.

I have a message,
(sea shells echo, the melody rings)
the message of God.

I have a dream
(all pebbles are merely smooth fragments of stone)
of many things.

I live in hope
(all children are merely small fragments of One)
that this dream shall come true.

I have a dream . . .
(but when you're gone, won't the dream have to end?)
Oh, no, not as long as you dream my dream too!

Here, hold out your hand, let's make it come true.
(i can feel it begin)
Lovers and dreamers are poets too.
(poets are lovers and dreamers too)

I, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.
I, too, have a dream ...

My Nightmare ...
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.

Less Heroic Couplets: Miss Bliss
by Michael R. Burch

Domestic “bliss”?
Best to swing and miss!

Less Heroic Couplets: Then and Now
by Michael R. Burch

BEFORE: Thanks to Brexit, our lives will be plush! ...
AFTER: Crap, we’re going broke! What the hell is the rush?

Less Heroic Couplets: Dear Pleader
by Michael R. Burch

Is our Dear Pleader, as he claims, heroic?
I prefer my presidents a bit more stoic.

Less Heroic Couplets: Less than Impressed
by Michael R. Burch

for T. M., regarding certain dispensers of lukewarm air

Their volume’s impressive, it’s true ...
but somehow it all seems “much ado.”

Less Heroic Couplets: Poetry I
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the heart’s caged rhythm,
the soul’s frantic tappings at the panes of mortality.

Less Heroic Couplets: Poetry II
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the trapped soul’s frantic tappings
at the panes of mortality.

Less Heroic Couplets: Seesaw
by Michael R. Burch

A poem is the mind teetering between fact and fiction,
momentarily elevated.

Less Heroic Couplets: Passions
by Michael R. Burch

Passions are the heart’s qualms,
the soul’s squalls, the brain’s storms.

Keywords/Tags: Muhammad Ali, boxing, violence, The Greatest, race, racism, racist, discrimination, black, slave name, Vietnam War, Olympics, gold medal, God, Muslim, Islam, Islamic, tribute, mrbali, mrbrace, mrbsport, mrbsports, mrbsong
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
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