Each day ★ go about our business,

walking past each ★, catching each ★’s

eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.


All about ★ is noise. All about ★ is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ★s  on our tongues.


Some ★ is stitching up a hem, darning

a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

repairing the ★s in need of repair.


Some ★ is trying to make music somewhere,

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.


A ★ and her son wait for the bus.

A ★ considers the changing sky.

A ★ says, Take out your pencils. Begin.


★ encounter each other in words, words

spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,

words to consider, reconsider.


★ cross dirt roads and highways that mark

the will of some ★ and then ★s, who said

★ need to see what's on the other side.


★ know there's something better down the road.

★ need to find a place where ★ are safe.

★ walk into that which ★ cannot yet see.


Say it plain: that ★ have died for this day.

Sing the names of the ★ who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,


picked the cotton and the lettuce, built

brick by brick the glittering edifices

★ would then keep clean and work inside of.


Praise song for struggle, praise song for the ★.

Praise song for every hand-lettered ★,

the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.


★ live by love thy neighbor as thyself,

★ by first do no harm or take no more

than ★ need. What if the mightiest word is love?


★ beyond marital, filial, national,

that casts a widening pool of light,

★ with no need to pre-empt grievance.


In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any ★ can be made, any ★ begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,


praise ★ for walking forward in that light.


Originally Published: April 17th, 2013

Poet and criminal defense attorney Vanessa Place earned a BA at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MFA at Antioch University, and a JD at Boston University.   In her conceptual poetry, Place explores the impact of context and expectation. In a 2010 interview for Lemon Hound, Place has...