“Freedom” by William Stafford (repost)

Freedom is not following a river.
Freedom is following a river
though, if you want to.

It is deciding now by what happens now.
It is knowing that luck makes a difference.

No leader is free; no follower is free–
the rest of us can often be free.
Most of the world are living by
creeds too odd, chancy, and habit-forming
to be worth arguing about by reason.

If you are oppressed, wake up about
four in the morning; most places
you can usually be free some of the time
if you wake up before other people.

from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems
Copyright 1998 by Graywolf Press

***

Originally posted May 26, 2016; Brian Dean Powers included this piece during “Words With Brian” (his week of “hosting” Words for the Year). See his other selections here.

 

“Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux (repost)


(read by Christy)

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

~ Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men: Poems

originally posted: 8/30/2014

“The Light That Shines When Things End” by I Wrote This For You (repost)

I hope that in the future they invent a small golden light that follows you everywhere and when something is about to end, it shines brightly so you know it’s about to end.

And if you’re never going to see someone again, it’ll shine brightly and both of you can be polite and say, “It was nice to have you in my life while I did, good luck with everything that happens after now.”

And maybe if you’re never going to eat at the same restaurant again, it’ll shine and you can order everything off the menu you’ve never tried. Maybe, if someone’s about to buy your car, the light will shine and you can take it for one last spin. Maybe, if you’re with a group of friends who’ll never be together again, all your lights will shine at the same time and you’ll know, and then you can hold each other and whisper, “This was so good. Oh my God, this was so good.”

~ I Wrote This For You (Iain S. Thomas). (His book on Amazon.)

 

originally posted: 12/20/14

“Reasons Not to Kill Yourself” by Hannah Renée (repost)

  • At some point, you will hug someone so hard that you cry and the two of you will feel as if you are becoming one person. Hold on a little longer.
  • There are so many books left to read and books left to write and, no matter what you may believe, your story is worth writing down.
  • The sun doesn’t shine some days but, when it does, everybody’s day is brighter because of it. Think of yourself as the sun and ask yourself where the earth would be without you.
  • Fireworks don’t display their colors immediately after they are launched. It takes time before their true beauty is revealed. Some things take time.
  • Some time in your life, you will hold someone’s hand and they will tell you that they love you or that they need you or both. You will begin to feel as if you were never broken.
  • Music.
  • Think of all the lazy Sundays or Wednesdays or any days where you decide to sleep in and stay in your pajama pants and fluffy socks all day.
  • For movie marathons with your best friend where you forget to watch the movies because you’re too busy catching up and listening to stories and bitching about all the people who the two of you can’t stand.
  • Sometimes creatures outgrow their shells and need to find a new one. Take a deep breath and find a new person or place to call home. This time, try considering your own body your home.
  • Snakes shed layers of their skin Maybe you need to do the same.
  • Some lizards and starfish can regenerate lost limbs. What many people don’t know is that humans can do the same. No matter how much life hurts you, you will always grow back.
  • Trees drop their leaves every single year but they always wait around for spring to come so that they can bloom again. Every year they come back stronger than before.
  • There are beautiful things in this world that you can’t even imagine. Mountains, rivers, canyons, auroras, oceans, landmarks, cities, people, etc. Do not end your own life until you have seen them all.

Hannah Renée

 

originally posted: 9/19/2014

“This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz (repost)

This is how you lose her.

You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely.

You must remember when she forgets.

You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention.

She remembers when you forget.

You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.

You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.

This Is How You Lose Her || Junot Diaz

 

originally posted: 11/11/14