Muhammad Ali

Jermaine Tolliver II

Better far— from all I see—
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?
Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I’m led
Lingering until I’m dead
Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees
Better than a heart attack
or some dose of drug I lack
Let me die by being black
Better far that I should go
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know
Better than the bloody stain
on some highway where I’m lain
Torn by flying glass and pane
Better calling death to come
than to die another dumb,
muted victim in the slum
Better than of this prison rot
if there’s any choice I’ve got
Kill me here on the spot
Better for my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage
Less it cool with ancient age
Better violent for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie
Better now that I say my sooth
I’m gonna die demanding Truth
While I’m still akin to youth
Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone
Never mind another dawn.