Ghandi on the Chain of Positivity

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Cage

In a world of loss
     gratitude is what 
          I demand for keeping 
     precious catch
within my reach.
     No one despises 
          the shepherd for
     collecting his flock. 
No one accuses 
     the watchman of 
          making a captive 
     of his charge.
I’m like a holster, 
     or sheath, all function 
          and no fury. Don’t 
     you worry as I 
swallow you whole. Those 
     ulcers in my gut 
          are only windows,
     the stoma punched 
in my throat is just 
     a keyhole. Don’t be shy.
          Hand me the rattle 
     of your aching heart
 and I’ll cradle you, 
     bird with broken wing. 
          Let me love you. I
     will hold your brittle 
bones together. I’ll 
     unclasp your beak
         so you can sing.
     It’s a world of always 
leaving but here
     you can always stay.

This is the closest I could get to the stark reality of children separated from their families and kept in cages. I tried other ways into the subject, but it always rang false, especially the versions I tried writing in the point of view of a child. I realized that these children have their own voices. But we are not listening. So I wrote a persona poem in which the villain tries to obscure the travesty of incarceration of minors with seductive, gas-lighting language.

—Rigoberto González

Magnitude and Bond

More than anything, I need this boy
so close to my ears, his questions

electric as honeybees in an acreage
of goldenrod and aster. And time where

we are, slow sugar in the veins
of white pine, rubbery mushrooms

cloistered at their feet. His tawny
listening at the water’s edge, shy

antlers in pooling green light, while
we consider fox prints etched in clay.

I need little black boys to be able to be
little black boys, whole salt water galaxies

in cotton and loudness—not fixed
in stunned suspension, episodes on hot

asphalt, waiting in the dazzling absence
of apology. I need this kid to stay mighty

and coltish, thundering alongside
other black kids, their wrestle and whoop,

the brightness of it—I need for the world
to bear it. And until it will, may the trees

kneel closer, while we sit in mineral hush,
together. May the boy whose dark eyes

are an echo of my father’s dark eyes,
and his father’s dark eyes, reach

with cupped hands into the braided
current. The boy, restless and lanky, the boy

for whom each moment endlessly opens,
for the attention he invests in the beetle’s

lacquered armor, each furrowed seed
or heartbeat, the boy who once told me

the world gives you second chances, the boy
tugging my arm, saying look, saying now.

—Nicole Terez Dutton

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of
up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and
complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

On the Sale By Auction of Keats’ Love Letters

These are the letters which Endymion wrote
To one he loved in secret, and apart.
And now the brawlers of the auction mart
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note,
Ay! for each separate pulse of passion quote
The merchant’s price. I think they love not art
Who break the crystal of a poet’s heart
That small and sickly eyes may glare and gloat.

Is it not said that many years ago,
In a far Eastern town, some soldiers ran
With torches through the midnight, and began
To wrangel for mean raiment, and to throw
Dice for the garments of a wretched man,
Not knowing the God’s wonder, or His woe?

–Oscar Wilde