Kyle G. Dargan


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.