Masses, Movements, Muhammad Ali!

He came like a Jack Johnson flashback, wrapped
In Gorgeous George game, mentored by Malcolm
He came, fancy footwork, flamboyant flurry of fists
And flaming tongue—when a hero was needed to go toe-to-toe with Jim Crow—outpoint Amerikkan
Apartheid in rings ‘round the globe!
He came telling the world about brave
Children facing fire hoses, fangs of snarling
German Shepherds, billy clubs, cattle prods,
And crackers with stars; He came as a mirror,
Face reflecting beauty of our mighty mass movements—welts, warts, zits, imperfections and all…

He came, Bojangles in boxing gloves, fighting
Shoulder to shoulder, side by side with Watts, Detroit, Newark, Montgomery millions—
Makers of history in anonymous glory….
He came, defying grand dragon draft boards and
Speaking truth to people—Ali Shuffling Black
Men out cul-de-sacs as cannon fodder; off bottom
Lines and balance sheets of war profiteers; off
Rope-a-Dope of rich men’s wars; off killing, ‘serving’
The world’s greatest purveyor of violence—murderers of Malcolm, Medgar, Martin, Lumumba,
Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman and good men and women in the Philippines, Korea, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran; He came Nina-Langston-like
“Backlash Blues” “Ain’t No Viet Cong ever called me
He came healing, practicing preventive medicine on
PTSD and suicide…He came reinvesting tears of Black families in graduations and weddings—making
Black Lives Matter…

He came Coltrane, like the blues, “I ain’t got no
Quarrel with them Viet Cong…” Cliff Notes on
Lenin’s Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

I sat silently on Facebook clicking red hearts
Emblazoned, ‘LOVE’ and occasionally writing
“Right on” or “TEACH” my ‘60s taught response
To righteous truth-telling—I didn’t want to write
Ali’s heroic deeds, simple words are Shakespearean,
Leaving us blind men and women fool’s errands of
Feeling an elephant and claiming deep grasp of its
Nature…intersectionality, binary Huxtabullshit to
‘de-construct’ or ‘unpack’
Ali’s a real role model—no Shaq/Chuck shuck…
No Nobel Peace Prize mass murderer; no prop
In hands of clowns—acrobats skillfully hoisting him and supporting the troops while dangling on the dick of the Drone Ranger!
Ali’s a real role model. His words and deeds stoked
Dream machines, made us think and believe we can run Miles and Trane…and be “The Greatest” at something…

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.