86° not counting
the ring lighting heaped
upon them. The king
leads with his mind,
bluffs with his fists. Can’t fool
Cosell: “Ali’s posturing
and talking, but not punching.”
His head bobs like a sunflower
in a violent wind.
Let this match be punctuation,
for not going down
like Joe. Tightlipped,
Holmes’ skin says I’m young, damn pretty,
while Ali’s jab is slow and visible—
a looping thread missing the needle
eye of his ex sparring partner’s nose.
Not the prize bouts, here
is the leather-storm that makes boxers—
the one they should run from
but stand for a heavy purse. Ali says,
“c’mon, hit me harder”
and Holmes releases all latent
respect weighing down his wrists.