You Can't Put Muhammad Ali in a Poem

June 4, 2016   •   By Juan Felipe Herrera

You Can't Put Muhammad Ali in a Poem

If you did —

       it would

            knock you down (remember Liston) &


    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

— Juan Felipe Herrera

Poet Laureate of the United States