Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.
The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)
Is it that in some brighter sphere
We part from friends we meet with here?
Or do we see the Future pass
Over the Present’s dusky glass?
Or what is that that makes us seem
To patch up fragments of a dream,
Part of which comes true, and part
Beats and trembles in the heart?
Like roses the bright dream did pass,
On swift, noiseless footsteps away;
Like glistening dew on the grass,
Dissolving beneath the sun’s ray.
Like voice of the lark that doth soar,
Through the golden haze of the dawn;
You hear it and bend to adore,
Just hear it and then it is gone.
The lark on his swift, flashing wings,
Keeps pace with the flowers in their flight;
And that’s why when soaring he sings,
And passes so swiftly from sight.
I slept, and a vision did see,
Of eyes that were tender and blue;
I awoke to know that for me
The vision may never come true.
The lark soars no more in the skies,
He’s gone with the roses and dew;
The face with the soft tender eyes,
Comes never to gladden my view.
My memory holds images fair,
Of all these beautiful things;
Which I will be seeking somewhere,
When my soul, as lark, findeth wings.
When the world grows old by the chimney-side,
Then forth to the youngling nooks I glide,
Where over the water and over the land
The bells are booming on either hand.
Now up they go ding, then down again dong,
And awhile they ring to the same old song,
For the metal goes round at a single bound,
A-cutting the fields with its measured sound,
While the tired tongue falls with a lengthened boom
As solemn and loud as the crack of doom.
Then changed is their measure to tone upon tone,
And seldom it is that one sound comes alone,
For they ring out their peals in a mingled throng,
And the breezes waft the loud ding-dong along.
When the echo hath reached me in this lone vale,
I am straightway a hero in coat of mail,
I tug at my belt and I march on my post,
And feel myself more than a match for a host.
"I have no time for those things now," we say; "But in the future just a little way, No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed, I shall have leisure then for thought and rest. When I the debts upon my land have paid, Or on foundations firm my business laid, I shall take time for discourse long and sweet With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet; I shall take time on mornings still and cool To seek the freshness dim of wood and pool, Where, calmed and hallowed by great Nature's peace, My life from its hot cares shall find release; I shall take time to think on destiny, Of what I was and am and yet shall be, Till in the hush my soul may nearer prove To that great Soul in whom we live and move. All this I shall do sometime but not now— The press of business cares will not allow." And thus our life glides on year after year; The promised leisure never comes more near. Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind Is high, and its attainment slow to find; Or if we reach the mark that we have set, We still would seek another, farther yet. Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past Till death upon the threshold stands at last, And back unto our Maker we must give The life we spent preparing well to live.
Gray prinked with rose,
White tipped with blue,
Shoes with gay hose,
Sleeves of chrome hue;
Fluffed frills of white,
Dark bordered light;
Such shimmerings through
Trees of emerald green are eyed
This afternoon, from the road outside.
They whirl around:
Many laughters run
With a cascade's sound;
Then a mere one.
A bell: they flee:
Silence then: —
So it will be
Some day again
With them, — with me.
Your soul and mine have gone the way of life:—
The dusty road where toiled the elfin strife—
Your hand entwined this hand of mine in love,
Your heart induced to scorn the clouds above—
And all the world was like a rose crowned song.
Your soul and mine have gone the way of life:—
We twain have bleeding wounds from Love's deep knife,
But you have kissed the tears that moist my cheeks
And lifted me beyond the cragged peaks—
And now the world is like a rose crowned song.
The Dawn’s awake!
A flash of smoldering flame and fire
Ignites the East. Then, higher, higher,
O’er all the sky so gray, forlorn,
The torch of gold is borne.
The Dawn’s awake!
The dawn of a thousand dreams and thrills.
And music singing in the hills
A pæen of eternal spring
Voices the new awakening.
The Dawn’s awake!
Whispers of pent-up harmonies,
With the mingled fragrance of the trees;
Faint snaches of half-forgotten song—
Fathers! Torn and numb,—
The boon of light we craved, awaited long,
Has come, has come!
When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.
of being human
will stay constant.
The earth, earth,
water wet, sun
The world will be
as ever round, and
will know it,
on it, and around
No one knows
is the happiness
of the circle,
Before jumping, remember
the span of time is long and gracious.
No one perches dangerously on any cliff
till you reply. Is there a pouch of rain
desperately thirsty people wait to drink from
when you say yes or no? I don’t think so.
Hold that thought. Hold everything.
When they say “crucial”—well, maybe for them?
Hold your horses and your minutes and
your Hong Kong dollar coins in your pocket,
you are not a corner or a critical turning page.
Wait. I’ll think about it.
This pressure you share is a misplaced hinge, a fantasy.
I am exactly where I wanted to be.
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
To be a good
ex/current friend for R. To be one last
inspired way to get back at R. To be relationship
advice for L. To be advice
for my mother. To be a more comfortable
hospital bed for my mother. To be
no more hospital beds. To be, in my spare time,
America for my uncle, who wants to be China
for me. To be a country of trafficless roads
& a sports car for my aunt, who likes to go
fast. To be a cyclone
of laughter when my parents say
their new coworker is like that, they can tell
because he wears pink socks, see, you don’t, so you can’t,
can’t be one of them. To be the one
my parents raised me to be—
a season from the planet
of planet-sized storms.
To be a backpack of PB&J & every
thing I know, for my brothers, who are becoming
their own storms. To be, for me, nobody,
homebody, body in bed watching TV. To go 2D
& be a painting, an amateur’s hilltop & stars,
simple decoration for the new apartment
with you. To be close, J.,
to everything that is close to you—
blue blanket, red cup, green shoes
with pink laces.
To be the blue & the red.
The green, the hot pink.
You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—
You are a hundred wild centuries
And fifteen, bringing with you
In every breath and in every step
Everyone who has come before you,
All the yous that you have been,
The mothers of your mother,
The fathers of your father.
If someone in your family tree was trouble,
A hundred were not:
The bad do not win—not finally,
No matter how loud they are.
We simply would not be here
If that were so.
You are made, fundamentally, from the good.
With this knowledge, you never march alone.
You are the breaking news of the century.
You are the good who has come forward
Through it all, even if so many days
Feel otherwise. But think:
When you as a child learned to speak,
It’s not that you didn’t know words—
It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,
And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.
From those centuries we human beings bring with us
The simple solutions and songs,
The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies
All in service to a simple idea:
That we can make a house called tomorrow.
What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,
Is ourselves. And that’s all we need
To start. That’s everything we require to keep going.
Look back only for as long as you must,
Then go forward into the history you will make.
Be good, then better. Write books. Cure disease.
Make us proud. Make yourself proud.
And those who came before you? When you hear thunder,
Hear it as their applause.
It turns out however that I was deeply Mistaken about the end of the world The body in flames will not be the body In flames but just a house fire ignored The black sails of that solitary burning Boat rubbing along the legs of lovers Flung into a Roman sky by a carousel The lovers too sick in their love To notice a man drenched in fire on a porch Or a child aflame mistaken for a dog Mistaken for a child running to tell of a bomb That did not knock before it entered In Gaza with its glad tidings of abundant joy In Kazimierz a god is weeping In a window one golden hand raised Above his head as if he’s slipped On the slick rag of the future our human Kindnesses unremarkable as the flies Rubbing their legs together while standing On a slice of cantaloupe Children You were never meant to be human You must be the grass You must grow wildly over the graves
We sit side by side,
brother and sister, and read
the book of what will be, while a breeze
blows the pages over—
desolate odd, cheerful even,
and otherwise. When we come
to our own story, the happy beginning,
the ending we don’t know yet,
the ten thousand acts
encumbering the days between,
we will read every page of it.
If an ancestor has pressed
a love-flower for us, it will lie hidden
between pages of the slow going,
where only those who adore the story
ever read. When the time comes
to shut the book and set out,
we will take childhood’s laughter
as far as we can into the days to come,
until another laughter sounds back
from the place where our next bodies
will have risen and will be telling
tales of what seemed deadly serious once,
offering to us oldening wayfarers
the light heart, now made of time
and sorrow, that we started with.
Now that we have come out of hiding,
Why would we live again in the tombs we’d made out of our souls?
And the sundered bodies that we’ve reassembled
With prayers and consolations,
What would their torn parts be, other than flesh?
Now that we have tasted hope
And dressed each other’s wounds with the legends of our
Would we not prefer to close our mouths forever shut
On the wine that swilled inside them?
Having dreamed the same dream,
Having found the water behind a thousand mirages,
Why would we hide from the sun again
Or fear the night sky after we’ve reached the ends of
Live in death again after all the life our dead have given us?
Listen to me Zow’ya, Beida, Ajdabya, Tobruk, Nalut,
Listen to me Derna, Musrata, Benghazi, Zintan,
Listen to me houses, alleys, courtyards, and streets that
throng my veins,
Some day soon, in your freed light, in the shade of your
Your excavated heroes will return to their thrones in your
Lovers will hold each other’s hands.
I need not look far to imagine the nerves dying,
Rejecting the life that blood sends them.
I need not look deep into my past to seek a thousand hopeless vistas.
But now that I have tasted hope
I have fallen into the embrace of my own rugged innocence.
How long were my ancient days?
I no longer care to count.
I no longer care to measure.
How bitter was the bread of bitterness?
I no longer care to recall.
Now that we have tasted hope, this hard-earned crust,
We would sooner die than seek any other taste to life,
Any other way of being human.
Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat—
the one you never really liked—will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up—drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.
There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.
History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,
Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.
Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,
Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.
For kicks, we'll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.
The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned
To a Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.
And yes, we'll live to be much older, thanks
To popular consensus. Weightless, unhinged,
Eons from even our own moon, we'll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once
And for all, scrutable and safe.