- Letters to Joe Frazier from Mike Tyson
Brooklyn, NY 1970
Joe,Today I returned from the hospital,and sat front rowas daddy spun mamaabout the houseuntil she became a broken ballerinain a blood smeared tutu.
If my fist were biggerthan golf ballsI would've drove themthrough his headwith the intent of an assassinwho believes one bulletcan change the world.
Brownsville, NY 1977
Joe,I am the pigeon king,a wizard with no wands,a boy afraid of his own footsteps.
The air in these projectsis poisonous. The inhabitantsmonsters. They find what you lovethen break it slowlyas they did the neckof my favorite bird. [End Page 80]
This was the day I learnedthat fear and fireare loversintertwined so closelythey can become one figure.
Catskill, NY 1980
Joe,I have met God.He's old and weakwhite and bald.We call him Cusbut I'm sure he's God.Only God couldmake mea boxer. Only Hecould make blood sportpoetry.
We watch black and whitereels of great fightersuntil I am dizzy.Until I am vomitingthe speed of Joe Louis,the anticipation of Marciano.
Boxing is a symphonyof wills, an orchestra of skills.I've studied your left hookunder careful eye,watched men become hypnotizedby your sonatas. [End Page 81]
Derrick Harriell, a native of Milwaukee, WI, is an assistant professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. He is author of Cotton, a volume of poems. Ropes, his second book of poems, will be published during the fall of 2013.