Dreaming Ali

It’s not worth writing down dreams
except for the one about Ali
early 1970’s Ali
white shorts black trim Ali
bouncing on his feet like a tapping man can tap
bouncing on his feet like a hummingbird can hum
sweating through in a one-bulb locker room
where the man handlers have handled
rubbed down a hard duo of dream-dancing legs
rubbed down his brown, hope-throwing arms
taped each fist as tight and neat as a present
that will tear open into everything
you have ever wanted for yourself
and he talks and chants and spits out prophecy
in hot winds of cool call and response
in hot winds that blow into the future of clash
Ali talks the uncertain into certain
Ali talks the slaughter into triumph
and you among the crew who massage and drum
the limbs and the chest and the skin of Ali
the crew who responds to his calls in a muscular chorus
of Uh huh, You, Indeed, It’s true
and Ali is talking, Ali is looking just beyond
and what he says is hazy
so fill it in because we’ve come this far
Ali says, there is only this journey and this journey is now
Uh huh
Ali says, who is the keeper of the eyes and the face
Ali says, deliver these hands to the people who need hands
Ali says, even justice can disrobe and knock a man down
It’s true
then you’re waking up against
your will, mumbling through a mouthpiece
waking up without
Ali, who should rumble pretty by your side forever
but it’s just you through the tunnel
eyes opening to the taut air of expectation
ready to fight for something
in the spectacle and flashbulbs
of our fearsome present