Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sonny Liston (1970)

Sonny Liston

Liston - Clay poster

Sonny Liston  (1970)

The silence is so sweet as Liston jabs a needle
into his log-size forearm.  He is hardness,
quick hands, and he is the last time Ali is Clay.
Night Train, out of the oak record player,
lopes around the room like a drunk dog.
I always want to say, "Love me,"
and I couldn't spit it out to no one.
Sometimes young fighters stop by after sparring
at Johnny Tocco's Gym, jump the prime rib spread.
Sonny, he don't always be mean, his wife says.
Morning is racing down Sunrise Mountain
and the desert is speckled with the bodies of men
who couldn't pay up.  Liston shuffles, fists up,
to the gold curtains, peeks out, bellows, Boo!

Sonny Liston as Santa Claus for Esquire

This poem is included in a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives.

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