Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
 Jan 2014 Patrice Jones
Randi B
I was young when I learned to sing
to the rhythm of fists
flying through the air
like birds too angry
with the season to call.
I was young when I thought a tune
could drown the sounds
of my mother’s sobs
crashing through hallways
in tidal waves and monsoon misery.
I was young when I carved
songs in the wallpaper
and into my delicate skin.
I turned bruises into syncopated beats
and scars into major scales.
My stepfather hated music
but I was an ornery child,
and I sang of joyous things
just to see if his soul could dance,
but instead,
I got two left feet in swift kicks.
When I was was young I was afraid of sticks
because I thought my body was a drum
to be beaten and battered
to a punishing rhythm.
I was young when I learned
that the taste of blood on my lip
was merely the flicker before the intermission;
the finale would be a grand display
of pomp, punch, and unlucky circumstance.
My mother was a tone-deaf drunk
who never learned to sing.
She belted begging in B flat octaves
like it was the only note she knew.
She wept an ocean of sorrow
as I sang my S.O.S.
“God, save our sinking ship.”
“God, save our sinking souls.”
“God, save our sorry stepfather from himself.”
And when I thought to cry,
I sang my little heart out instead.
I sang of devil's meeting end,
and I sang of daughter's finding love,
and I sang of mother's finding
strength enough to leave,
and I sang to the happy families
that only existed in sitcoms,
because my stepfather hated music
but I hated him far more.
The nights have grown cool again, like the nights
Of early spring, and quiet again. Will
Speech disturb you? We're
Alone now; we have no reason for silence.

Can you see, over the garden-the full moon rises.
I won't see the next full moon.

In spring, when the moon rose, it meant
Time was endless. Snowdrops
Opened and closed, the clustered
Seeds of the maples fell in pale drifts.
White over white, the moon rose over the birch tree.
And in the crook, where the tree divides,
Leaves of the first daffodils, in moonlight
Soft greenish-silver.

We have come too far together toward the end now
To fear the end. These nights, I am no longer even certain
I know what the end means. And you, who've been
With a man--

After the first cries,
Doesn't joy, like fear, make no sound?
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

— The End —