South-Bound Steam Engine: An Elegy for Sonny Liston
by Wayne Presley


    Two fists like twin trains
    barreling through the Arkansas country-night
    sending men back home
    The 24th of the litter and a Goblin among men
    Sonny, you were truly American-made
    An American, crushing stones and punching holes
    in granite jaws
    A harbinger of pain
    The bitter post-man
    with savage black-stone hands
    Bad news
    Eater of the innocent
    Night-fiend of the squared circle
    They led 'em out on stretchers
    one after the other
    Bodies heaped in the corner
    and you grimacing like a shining troll-prince
    Master of Men

    Crunching bones with noisy jabs
    like dump-trucks
    and sledgehammers
    Full of midnight fire and venom
    The Boogey-man of the era
    and a warning to the young
    If you don't eat your green-beans
    little Johnny
    Sonny'll eat you

    Not the Brown-Bomber
    but the Black-Steam Engine
    rolling over the graves
    of his silent, helpless victims
    Gulping their blood
    Shoving tenderized flesh
    by the pound
    into his gaping mouth

    With a left like a Bouncin' Betty
    and a right like Gabriel's own trumpet
    Enough to make Floyd Patterson's knees wobble a bit
    Enough to soil the drawers of any red-blooded
    God-Fearing American

    Sonny Liston was a Juggernaut
    Bulldozing his way
    through
    giant
    honest heros
    and making mince-meat
    of the brave
    Like a modern-day Grendel
    Devourer of small children

    If you ever saw the Clay fights
    you know that they were fixed.






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