The world is a beautiful place 
                                                           to be born into 
if you don’t mind happiness 
                                             not always being 
                                                                        so very much fun 
       if you don’t mind a touch of hell
                                                       now and then
                just when everything is fine
                                                             because even in heaven
                                they don’t sing 
                                                        all the time

             The world is a beautiful place
                                                           to be born into
       if you don’t mind some people dying
                                                                  all the time
                        or maybe only starving
                                                           some of the time
                 which isn’t half so bad
                                                      if it isn’t you

      Oh the world is a beautiful place
                                                          to be born into
               if you don’t much mind
                                                   a few dead minds
                    in the higher places
                                                    or a bomb or two
                            now and then
                                                  in your upturned faces
         or such other improprieties
                                                    as our Name Brand society
                                  is prey to
                                              with its men of distinction
             and its men of extinction
                                                   and its priests
                         and other patrolmen
                                                         and its various segregations
         and congressional investigations
                                                             and other constipations
                        that our fool flesh
                                                     is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
                                                           for a lot of such things as
         making the fun scene
                                                and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
                                         and singing low songs of having 
and walking around 
                                looking at everything
                                                                  and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
                              and even thinking 
                                                         and kissing people and
     making babies and wearing pants
                                                         and waving hats and
                                                and going swimming in rivers
                              on picnics
                                       in the middle of the summer
and just generally
                            ‘living it up’

   but then right in the middle of it
                                                    comes the smiling


From A Coney Island of the Mind, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

If you run for too long, you forget everything.
Even your limbs become invention. A fallacy of skin
you tell yourself you once had when you knew
how to be more, so birds are the stories you now tell
your flesh. You remind her of the Swift 
who flies for years, as if land is an impossible trick. You tell
her about the Sea Eagle from China lost
in America for years. Flying and flying and never
finding home. You remember her the ʻAlauahio, the ʻŌʻō,
the Olomaʻo, the Kākāwahie, the ʻĀkepa, the Nukupuʻu
the ʻŌʻū, the Mamo, the ʻUla-ʻai-hawane, the Poʻo-uli, 
the Kāmaʻo, the ʻAmaui, the birds, the birds,
the birds. You remember her all the birds 
who had to be more
to be.

This morning I am unsure how
a bird exists when she has been seen only
under glass for more than fifty years. Her feathers
a feeble reminder of what she could be. Diminished 
to a hush of keratin and collagen. This bird
once shook the forest with her color.

This morning I am not sure how
I am still here. Daybreak—               
just another process of shedding
of peeling back to meat
with no     new      skin to shelter.

Every breath, a surprise.
The heart beats still.
But how—how do we quiet 
these too loud bones
when our seams are worn 
by so much running?

When you finally stop
you still feel your insides running.
Those involuntary tissues scrambling
to burst through your surfaces. What
would you do to let them free? When all of you
is full of run, you imagine yourself feathers. 
There is a bird inside you pushing 
at all your cracks. The punctures of vanes 
are just more places for you to breathe. 
This bird inside you would know 
how to draw breath. This bird inside you 
would know the song struggling 
in your throat. What will you do 
to let this bird free? What will you do 
to find all the songs
you should sing?

Today we remember the Kākāwahie.
we remember the ʻAlauahio, the ʻŌʻō,
the Olomaʻo, the ʻĀkepa, the Nukupuʻu
the ʻŌʻū, the Mamo, the ʻUla-ʻai-hawane,
the Poʻo-uli, the Kāmaʻo, the ʻAmaui.

Today we remember our body
before we severed our own wings
just so we could hide
from the man
in the story
who would pin
all our wings 
to the ground.

Copyright © 2024 by Lyz Soto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.