He shuffles like Muhammad Ali
losing to Leon Spinks, feet moving
backwards—somehow going nowhere,
he fights valiantly
the rhythm, refusing to go down
All instinct, no plan needed.
Body tired, mind alive. From where I sit
by the photographer, I cheer, knowing
fights can change quickly,
with a lucky swing
or the right word, from the right voice.
I’m careful not
to spill my shot, bought by a
front row fan, pumping his fist
as my new brother
remembers to bob
his head, avoiding the beat,
his glasses intact despite
the syncopatic pounding.
He raises his hands in victory,
sweat in his smile,
8oz in hand. He needs only
a quick swig to find his breath
before the next round starts.
This time he knows the words,
and I laugh, knowing he’s ready
for whatever lies ahead.
Nick Bush is an associate professor of English at Motlow State Community College and an amateur stand-up comic in Nashville who writes fiction and poetry when he’s not watching the Titans or cooking low carb meals. He also co-hosts the Let Me Ask You This (LMAYT) Football podcast and co-edits The Mosaic literary magazine.
Photographer’s Note: I found this poem both comical and brilliantly written. I designed the paired photo to capture how it made me feel. It represents what a little liquid courage and good music can do for a person (note the song title of the 45 the drink is sitting on). I also used a Motown group as a play on the general belief that white men can’t dance.