Category Archives: Poetry

Be Something.

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Rest in Peace.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

Who can say if I’ve been 
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you…
I have been changed for good. 

Today, our school learned that one of those among us had passed away. A beloved art teacher passed on early this morning, and the loss of her presence truly is a loss for the world. She was my teacher in years 9 and 10, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a teacher have such strong faith in every single one of her students. She was always there to encourage, and give ideas, and lend a hand, and provide support to those who needed it. Every single day she had a massive smile on her face, greeting everyone she walked past. She truly loved people, I think. I believe she was one of those people who found it hard to see the flaws in individuals – instead, she focused on their brilliant qualities, and tried to nourish those so they become the strongest ones in each person. She had such life within her – she was so quirky, and fascinating, and energetic. To anyone who had her as a teacher, she quickly became a sort of motherly figure – she definitely treated her classes like her children, and she would nurture them as if they really were.

It’s really hard to comprehend that we’ll never see her smiling at us again, or singing happy birthday to us in her operatic way, or going out of her way to make sure we’re okay. With her, it was always others first, then herself. Even when she was sick, she would try and look after everyone else as best as she could. I honestly can’t recall another person I’ve met who’s quite like her – there was so much light in her, even when times seemed to be gravely dark. The world would be a much brighter place with more people like her in it – and without her, it seems just that much darker. I will miss her an awful lot, but I know I’ll never forget her or her personality. The best we can all do, I think, is to try and make our attitudes towards life more like hers.

I saw this poem on my friend Bronwyn’s blog, and as she said, it feels quite appropriate for today.

Between The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 1964-1994
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars… the house… the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

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Here Am I.

I don’t know what it is about this man, but shit, Anis Mojgani’s poems make me want to live. They make me want to speak in cliches, and speak with an overbearing brand of optimism – they make me want to breathe deeply, and live deeply; they make me feel infinite, and infinitesimal; they make me want to live out my life as a permanent quest for self-improvement; they make me want to laugh and cry and dance in the rain and drink round a bonfire and swim at sunset and drive to nowhere – they make me feel all of these things, all at once, like a spark that lights up from the first line, and grows throughout the poem until it ends and I’m left with a raging inferno of emotions. But it’s a nice inferno – an inferno that brings back so many feelings, like feelings of childhood I hadn’t quite held on to, and feelings of nostalgia for a life I haven’t really lived yet, and feelings for all the things I could do, and want to do, and should do.

This poem, “Here Am I”, reaches it’s climax, and I feel the tears building. And it’s rare, because they aren’t sad tears, or angry tears, or even teenage-angsty tears; they’re just tears. Emotions, spilling out of me, forcing themselves out in one of the few ways they know how to force themselves out of me. His words are so beautiful, and so inspirational, and it’s so hard to describe how they make me feel. But that’s okay, because I shouldn’t need to describe it. I want you to feel it, for yourself. I want everyone to feel it, not necessarily from his words, but from something. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s one I need to feel more often. And one of the best bits? They leave a lingering sense of hope behind.

“I was here / I was here motherfucker / And ain’t none of y’all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in / I’m here motherfucker and we all here motherfucker and we all motherfuckers, motherfucker / Because every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die / Because every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye / Because every word I carry is another stone to put into place in the foundation that I’m building / Because the days can erase something that I never saw / What all of us wanted and what none of us got / What we all had and have and what we all forgot / That we all wanted to be something / That we all became something / And it might not be the shit we once though we’d be when we were kids but something is still something and like some cats say, something is better than nothing / Feet are smarter than an engine / And dreams are stronger than thighs / And questions are the only answers we need to know that we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child, asking why is 2 + 3 always equal to 5 ? / Where do people go to when they die? / What made the beauty of the moon? / And the beauty of the sea? / Did that beauty make you? / Did that beauty make me? / Will that make me something? / Will I be something? / Am I something?

And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.”

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Shake The Dust.

This is one of my favourite poems. Anis Mojgani’s keeps coming to me in the strangest ways – from a Make Poverty History Roadtrip to a friend messaging me with “Come Closer”, telling me that I’m someone “intelligently and emotionally aware” and that I’d enjoy it. His words are so beautiful, and the way he speaks them is truly touching.

This is for the fat girls.
This is for the little brothers.
This is for the school-yard wimps, this is for the childhood bullies who tormented them.
This is for the former prom queen, this is for the milk-crate ball players.
This is for the nighttime cereal eaters and for the retired, elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters. Shake the dust.
This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them,
for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns,
for the men who have to hold down three jobs simply to hold up their children,
for the nighttime schoolers and the midnight bike riders who are trying to fly. Shake the dust.
This is for the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-god. Shake the dust.
For the girls with the brothers who are going crazy,
for those gym class wall flowers and the twelve-year-olds afraid of taking public showers,
for the kid who’s always late to class because he forgets the combination to his lockers,
for the girl who loves somebody else. Shake the dust.
This is for the hard men, the hard men who want to love but know that is won’t come.
For the ones who are forgotten, the ones the amendments do not stand up for.
For the ones who are told to speak only when you are spoken to and then are never spoken to. Speak every time you stand so you do not forget yourself.
Do not let a moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart beats 900 times a day and that there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean.
Do not settle for letting these waves settle and the dust to collect in your veins.
This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling,
for the poetry teachers and for the people who go on vacations alone.
For the sweat that drips off of Mick Jaggers’ singing lips and for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner’s shaking hips, for the heavens and for the hells through which Tina has lived.
This is for the tired and for the dreamers and for those families who’ll never be like the Cleavers with perfectly made dinners and sons like Wally and the Beaver.
This is for the biggots,
this is for the sexists,
this is for the killers.
This is for the big house, pen-sentenced cats becoming redeemers and for the springtime that always shows up after the winters.
This? This is for you.
Make sure that by the time fisherman returns you are gone.
Because just like the days, I burn both ends and every time I write, every time I open my eyes I am cutting out a part of myself to give to you.
So shake the dust and take me with you when you do for none of this has never been for me.
All that pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls for you.
So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours.
Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all.
Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.
So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.

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Mayakovsky.

1
My heart’s aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it’s throbbing!

then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.

2
I love you. I love you,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.

Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,

and I’ll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.

Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick

with bloody blows on its head.
I embraced a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.

3
That’s funny! there’s blood on my chest
oh yes, I’ve been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea

4
Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

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Lost Generation.

I am part of a lost generation

and I refuse to believe that

I can change the world

I realise this may be a shock but

“Happiness comes from within”

is a lie, and 

“Money will make me happy.”

so in 30 years I will tell my children 

they are not the most important thing in my life

my employer will know that I have my priorities straight because

work

is more important than

family

I tell you this,

once upon a time

families stayed together 

but this will not be true in my era

this is a quick fix society

experts tell me

30 years from now, I’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce

I do not concede that

I will live in a country of my own making

in the future

environmental destruction will be the norm

no longer can it be said that 

my peers and I care about this Earth

it will be evident that 

my generation is apathetic and lethargic 

it is foolish to presume that 

there is hope. 

By Jonathan Reed – now read it backwards.

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