Monday, June 25, 2018

John Jeffire


Johnny Ace step out his Caddy
Curbside the Page One, March
Evening, Detroit iced to the nostril,
His boy Lights Out undefeated
And Boom Boom on the get,
Johnny Ace rolling in green,
Yeah, you just wait, we just
Gettin’ started, Holmes, this
Here ain’t no nothin’.
That white flake shake three
Straight day, don’t never slow—
I’m Johnny Ace, boy, you
Don’t never call me Smith,
Not no chump hangin’ off
The backside no red rig, naw,
Not no Gold Glove welter, naw,
Now we got diamond knuckles
Rollin’ chrome spokes over 7 Mile.
Johnny Ace, he on the prowl, got him
Bennies to burn, Banks coyote coat,
Platform lace-ups, Boss Man lid
Like The Hammer, takin’ world
Championship distance.

Then the roll up—
No make, no model, burners out.
This city, you pay up or you pay.
Blow gonna blow but the wind
Always forever rage in your face.
Bell don’t even ring and Johnny Ace
Know the count, boom stick
And a 9 bark, five slugs dig
His ribs, lead kidney punch,
Jab jab to the chest, down
Go Johnny Ace, didn’t nobody
See nothing, don’t nobody know
Nothing when the coyote coat
Run red to the canvas, Johnny
Ace count the neons, point to
The stars, reach out for a rope
That wasn’t never there.

—for Johnny Ace Smith,
murdered, Detroit, 37 years old,
10 March 1989

John reads "Ace":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

John confesses: "I am a native Detroiter, and John Smith, better known as Johnny Ace, is part of the underground lore of the city. He was a firefighter and local Golden Gloves hero before he got into managing fighters, working with some big names like world champs James “Lights Out” Toney and Tom “Boom-Boom” Johnson. My father was a boxer, and he and my uncles were all on the Detroit boxing commission and got to know Johnny Ace and always talked about him as quite the character. The full circumstances around Ace’s death are still unclear, but I wanted to make sure this colorful, mysterious man was remembered."

JOHN JEFFIRE was born in Detroit. In 2005, his novel Motown Burning was named Grand Prize Winner in the Mount Arrowsmith Novel Competition and in 2007 it won a Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishing Awards. Speaking of Motown Burning, former chair of the Pulitzer Jury Philip F. O'Connor said, “It works. I don't often say that, but it has a drive and integrity that gives it credible life....I find a novel with heart.” In 2009, Andra Milacca included Motown Burning in her list of “Six Savory Novels Set in Detroit” along with works by Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeffrey Eugenides. His first book of poetry, Stone + Fist + Brick + Bone, was nominated for a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2009. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine called the book “a terrific one for our city.” His most recent book, Shoveling Snow in a Snowstorm, a poetry chapbook, was published by the Finishing Line Press in 2016. For more on the author and his work, visit

No comments: