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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.

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
Tatiana May 2019
Pressurize and squeeze
the points at which we are weak
force us to release our control with a pop.
We let out an agonized groan,
as our support beams slide out of their joints
and grate against our buildings' bones.
They keep testing our metal
to see if it breaks.
But even as our bodies shake
we remain strong together.
Our mettle was forged in fires so hot,
so we will give it our best shot
and fight them until we cannot.

Mini poem series finished :)
Tatiana May 2019
It seems you've been struck with the meddler's touch.
I can see it in the way you move.
Constantly looking over your shoulder
cringing when you see nothing
not that you wanted to see something.
It's a relief overshadowed by fear
that someone will mess with emotions so dear.
They'll make metal melt and become malleable.
They'll do the same to you if you're valuable.
Melt you down and mold you into something you're not
they'll meddle with the metal and give you a medal
for participating in their meddling
and leave you to cool down when you were hot.
You're right to be wary of strange sounds
just be careful not to turn all the way around
for they're not behind you, they never were
the meddlers are in front of you
messing with your future.

Now you're something that you were not.
Now you're something that you were not.
All that's left is mettle

Tatiana May 2019
Gold shines just as brilliantly as silver or bronze
achievements for the greatest of them all
standing on podiums, they show-off their medals.
Well gold, silver, and bronze shine
just as much as tin or iron
even the cheapest of plastics can be made to reflect light.
Will your champion know what is really gold
or will they be distracted by how it glitters?
No, not all winners are fools.
But the best of them all can determine
the metal of their medals.

There's no real structure to these poems, but that's okay. I like them just fine.

Donward Bughaw Apr 2019
Anong galak sa mukha
ang masabitan ng gintong medalya
at mabigyan ng sertipiko
habang ang pangalan ay tinatawag
sa sira-sirang mikroponong ibig tumutol
sa pagkilala
ng mga huwad na gurong
karamihan ay alipin
nang bulok na sistema ng paaralang
pinanahanan ng mahika-
ng mga baboy at buwaya!

© 2019
Masarap mabuhay nang puno ng mga pagkilala. Subalit, deserve mo ba talaga? O isa na naman itong ilusyong bunga lamang ng mahika.
Star BG Mar 2019
I wear a medal
received in the Olympics of life.
Gold for family
who has run the mile with me.
Silver for my perseverance through
challengers of self-worth.
And Bronze for my gifts
of writing that has expanded over the years.

Yes I wear my medals proudly
as winner in life
moving in the breath of gratitude.
Inspired by patty m thank you
Allyssa Jun 2017
It is the pain in my heart that has saddled onto my chest like a stallion ready to ride into battle.
Except this horse is no more and the reins are rotten and the animal itself is in pain.
It's crying.
What do you do to a beautiful animal when it's in pain?
You put it out of its misery.
Is that what I am to be?
An animal, worked so hard and rugged that the pain is so much that I cannot ride into the war of life that is yet waiting for me to vanquish,
Am I not ready for the medal I am to win for the life I have conquered and it's enemies I had slain?
Am I not ready for the news that my soldiers in battle have lost their way beside me onto a path of their own so that their bravery was no more than the shield I have given them to hide behind?
My stallion, my heart, my pain, my chest, it is rotten.
For the years I have come head first into battle, it does not matter anymore.
For the pain that resides in my chest,
My beautiful stallion, you're done.
Thank you for being the courage I needed, the strength you had offered me,
The love I needed,
And the friend I relied upon when I had none.
My soldiers,
My fleet,
My friends.
They have perished
And so has their captain.
I'm on the verge of losing this battle.
Moji K Dec 2015
Tribute to the fallen
Guardians of the union

Accolade to the warriors
Combatants sworn

Standing straight
Before their Lord

Eulogy to the brave
Salvo of respect

Applause to the Eagles
Conscripts of the sky

Medal of the departed
Proud on their shoulders

Offering to our cadaverous
Salute to our gone brethren

Gone, not forgotten
We think them dead

We perceive them not
Living are they,
in their love of the Lord
A tribute to my army
E Townsend Sep 2015
You are not the only one.
You can be replaced.

I should know.
I've been replaced before.

— The End —