Friday, 25 September 2015

            spi­der­web flag /​/​ on fog flag­pole
  porce­lain vase of beasts /​/​ in rare inks
     huge cube of con­crete /​/​ speck­led egg in­side.
             back­wards map /​/​ for a maze of mir­rors
                onion skin /​/​ atop onion skin
              time be /​/​ tween star /​/​ light
             pond of rocks /​/​ pond of rocks
           a pond of rocks /​/​ upon whose
         foun­da­tion a shat /​/​ ter rain falls
        and while you were /​/​ read­ing this
      cater­corner, edge of /​/​ eye, pe­riph­eral
                  we sneak /​/​ on rat feet
               on rat feet /​/​ scut­tle scaf­folds
               to build or /​/​ crash or crash
               we the loud /​/​ est shout
           mil­len­nia built /​/​ ma­gi­cian hands
                  reck­less /​/​ cal­cu­la­tion
        pa­pier-mâché masks /​/​ wa­ter­color thun­der­storm
           mon­ster fear­ing /​/​ above the bed
         myth minted daily /​/​ god cow­er­ing
               about women /​/​ god? or just
                           /​/​ men

If by Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, 27 February 2011

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are los­ing theirs and blam­ing it on you;
If you can trust your­self when all men doubt you,
But make al­lowance for their doubt­ing too;
If you can wait and not be tired by wait­ing,
Or, be­ing lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, be­ing hated, don’t give way to hat­ing,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your mas­ter;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with tri­umph and dis­as­ter
And treat those two im­posters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spo­ken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to bro­ken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your win­nings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your be­gin­nings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long af­ter they are gone,
And so hold on when there is noth­ing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the com­mon touch;
If nei­ther foes nor lov­ing friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the un­for­giv­ing min­ute
With sixty sec­onds’ worth of dis­tance run -
Yours is the Earth and every­thing that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man my son! 

Rudyard Kipling

My mom gave me a framed ver­sion of this poem on my 16th birth­day. I wasn’t a man then, so I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand it. Later, when I thought I un­der­stood it, I dis­agreed with it on all points. It sat in the closet in my old room un­til I turned 30, at which time my mom gave it to me again. I flipped it over and on the back was the note she’d writ­ten my for my 16th birth­day, the note she’d writ­ten for my 30th, and the hand­writ­ten poem my Grandma wrote for me on my 16th. Reading “If” at 30 is yet again a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. Now I feel like I un­der­stand it; now I strive for these listed virtues. 

Now it hangs in my son’s room, and I hope as he grows that he will feel the same ways I’ve felt about it over the years.