Andrew Rihn




Nov 1, 1985

Coliseum, Latham, New York, U.S.

This world: other-worldly. Already this passion. Life and death and stage direction. Crepuscular rays descend from overhead lights as Mike Tyson slips Benjamin's jabs, as if lit by cinematographer: a movie set. Darkness reminiscent of a George Bellows painting. The crowd obscured in smoke, stale cigars, and the crowded space of sin. The other place: opponent, opposed. Benjamin is counted out, while Mike Tyson thrusts his gloved hands between the ropes, palms up. (Like a small play, to paraphrase Bruce Lee, but played seriously.) Pious objects and sacred signs. The expressive potential of the human figure. Tremble within: echo, resonate.






Mar 10, 1986

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, U.S.

Every one is a grenade. Speed and shrapnel and the steady suddenness of explosion. Muhammad Ali was posed like a magazine saint: Saint Sebastian who, we forget, was actually healed of his arrows but later clubbed to death. (German monks would preserve his cranium in silver, and drink wine from it to celebrate his feastday.) No one encouraged Mike Tyson to pretend to saintliness. "Kid Dynamite": this explosion posing as a man.  The etymology of explosion: a clapping of hands, a rejection; as in the theater, to drive an actor off the stage. Bad seeds, this pomegranate, like sour fists.





May 20, 1986

Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.

New York, they said, was busting out. Iron and blood. Solid and liquid, like land and water: this island, this throwback. The new principles arrive, crown of ropes upon their heads, stone wings suspended along the rusty shorelines of their antiphons. O roots and keystones, prisoners of light and prisoners of darkness, O theory of constraint: sit down and scrutinize this grief, this crisis in fact, disastrous metal and corrosion wrapped in fists. O punches thrown and punches landed, unanimous and opinionated: come and shine upon the bare knuckles of this world. Bust this desolation, this cheap and fashionable dust.






Aug 17, 1986

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.

Here is the image, the cruciform optic. Above the Tale of the Tape, two photos: Ribalta posed smiling, shoulders angled, fists raised. And Mike Tyson, face square on, almost vacant expression, like a mug shot. No more smiling in the ring, just a signifying gold tooth in the front line of a snarl. No more wide eyes, just an angry, furrowed brow. Elusive gladiator, antihero for the home box office. This is pugilism wrapped in myth, fast on its way to an execution. Strange battle, new man: premonition of the fighter who doesn't fall, the stone we all have swallowed.






These pieces are selections from my full-length book Revelation: An Apocalypse in Fifty-Eight Fights (Press 53, forthcoming), made up entirely of flash/creative nonfiction/prose poems, each 100 words and each corresponding to one of Mike Tyson's professional fights. Less biography and more apocalyptic prophecy, Revelation ultimately relates to Mike Tyson as a sort of modern day Elijah: climbing the mountain to do battle, and then climbing back down only to find a world of depression, anxiety, and alienating silence.