Today's poem is by Janice A. Lowe

Once and Future LeBron

Mom interviewed Muhammad Ali
who was always in CLE
turf since the 40s of Don, King Of Numbers
or in Ashtabula County
King's boxing training champion digs in the country
Ali existed in rumors of playground disruption
play sparring with school kids
showing up deadpan to clock a principal
a surprise neighborhood booster reaching behind his back
from Louisville to Kinshasa to here

Mom wasn't thinking about taking us kids with her
though John and I begged r&b poignantly
our falsetto pleases shut out by, "You have to go to school"
We kinda knew she didn't have time to pick us up on her lunch break
and meet The Greatest

After school was a litany of
"What was he like? How was it?
Proper Mom purred, "He is one fine looking man"
Our shock was louder than questions
We have the pictures—all of them
Mom, English teacher fine
Dad and Mr. Hyche in their best let's get stuff done in the community fine-ness

Ali understands hope resuscitation
like James Brown and Gorgeous George bursting through capes laid over feigned or real exhaustion
bursting back to dancing, to The Show, The People
Another King, James of Akron, understands defibrillation of hope and cities
When news broke of LeBron leaving the Cavaliers for The Heat, video footage showed a few, maybe more
than a few distraught fans burning any number 23 on a textile
A friend offered, "Black folks won't bother burning jerseys. They'll just let the brother go."
I know a few folks who fired up LeBron jerseys in backyard barbecue grills, sisters and brothers who
wouldn't risk being arrested but found a way to effigy their profound questions
Why leave Cleveland? It's home.

Copyright © 2016 Janice A. Lowe All rights reserved
from Leaving CLE
Miami University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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