Praise Song for the ★
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.
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...