We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest: Lives in one hour more than in years do some Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins. Life's but a means unto an end; that end, Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God. The dead have all the glory of the world.
This poem is in the public domain.
There is a sandalwood Buddha on the desk that has my stomach and I don't suppose to call myself a Buddha or even pretend to know much about Buddhist whirlings but Rachel gave me the thing and it's got my belly the one my father has got and the one his father had and I know this bulge the way I know my name, and can't believe I've become the language of fat that the boys in my family have kept quiet. So I encourage my stomach out into the world, rub it on a daily basis and think that if I ever become a religious man there would be god and glory to find there, my rib cage distended, my love of ice cream as sweet as my love of Rachel who put the Buddha in my palm a month after we met and said, have this, and I said, I already have this, my hands in motion around my belly button and then today noticed for the first time that the little bastard has got some serious nipples on him, thank god, and breasts too, he's the perfect kind of godlike statuette even if I am a Jew but the days have been glorious and people die in truck crashes and men beat their wives and flowers bloom purple and the cardinal I've named Jack always comes around my way at this time, 4:40 in Baldwin on the Island, Wes Montgomery on the Sony and I don't know if it's his song Cariba or the wind on my swollen toes that makes me pick up the little guy, stick him in my mouth, swirl him around between teeth and cheek, place him on the edge of my tongue and let him surf there, through the neighborhood of my white heat, on the curl of my pink waves.
From The New Year of Yellow by Matthew Lippman, published by Sarabande Books, Inc. © 2007 by Matthew Lippman. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books and the author.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
This poem is in the public domain.
It’s a journey . . . that I propose . . . I am not the guide . . . nor technical assistant . . . I will be your fellow passenger . . .
Though the rail has been ridden . . . winter clouds cover . . . autumn’s exuberant quilt . . . we must provide our own guide-posts . . .
I have heard . . . from previous visitors . . . the road washes out sometimes . . . and passengers are compelled . . . to continue groping . . . or turn back . . . I am not afraid . . .
I am not afraid . . . of rough spots . . . or lonely times . . . I don’t fear . . . the success of this endeavor . . . I am Ra . . . in a space . . . not to be discovered . . . but invented . . .
I promise you nothing . . . I accept your promise . . . of the same we are simply riding . . . a wave . . . that may carry . . . or crash . . .
It’s a journey . . . and I want . . . to go . . .
“A Journey” from The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright compilation © 2003 by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Today some things worked as they were meant to.
A big spring wind came up and blew down
from the verdant neighborhood trees,
millions of those little spinning things,
with seeds inside, and my heart woke up alive again too,
as if the brain could be erased of its angry hurt;
fat chance of that, yet
things sometimes work as they were meant,
like the torturer who finally can’t sleep,
or the god damn moon
who sees everything we do
and who still comes up behind clouds
spread out like hands to keep the light away.
Copyright © 2006 by Bruce Weigl. From Declension in the Village of Chung Luong (Ausable Press, 2006). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.
lately, when asked how are you, i
respond with a name no longer living
Rekia, Jamar, Sandra
i am alive by luck at this point. i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth
will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used
to water down my blood. today i did
not die and there is no god or law to
thank. the bullet missed my head
and landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror and did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank
post-it note there looking back. i
haven't enough room to both rage and
weep. i go to cry and each tear turns
to steam. I say I matter and a ghost
white hand appears over my mouth
"what the dead know by heart" by Donte Collins. Copyright © 2016 by Donte Collins. Used with permission of the author.