The Man with a Paddle and Heart
I guess I was left alone after sixth grade, wandering my way.
You believed in me, offered up openings and let me say
what I would and delve into the sun and world and stay
and even you ended up with the lecture that betrays.
I wrote I hate because I was writing a friend's words and heart.
You asked me who I would be and even then I wanted all, a dart
where you wanted a girl to trudge through all scientific dirt
while you rode the airplanes and dumped the bombs and let off farts.
The alien chart given to us by the friend with death in his eyes
turned into a get after her and steal her gift away, mini-size
combat world I have entered, perhaps I don't want to see
that my skin and bones won't take the abuse and slip free.
You told me it was trash, imagination, you whose directions I embraced,
tall as my father, kind in punishment with paddle, food for an ace,
do what I can, make the baskets and short end instead of lace
but even then I crocheted for quiet and the ending of days.
How can I choose one star when there are minds that blink into focus
you were the exhaust shoot that let me fly without hocus pocus
I thought I had a community who could let me be without fuss
instead I became the joke who you could goad into a cuss.
Stars are supposed to offer a route into the future
I only have my mind and the heart break of needed sutures
I have Gandhi and Buddha and they hold my hands as lures
to study silence, and Pink Floyd to cuddle but not reassure.
So why is the man with a paddle and heart my only star?
Outside I am compliant and you're happy with her
but inside I am defiant that you have not seen me soar
because I am the murk you want to avoid for a lark.
Betrayals hurt the heart by ignoring the soul's worth.
Betrayals hurt the mind by ignoring the leaps of birth,
Betrayals hurt the soul by closing doors into endless hurt.
My stars always hurt me so I always restart.
I am still alone following the paths who clarity offer hope
and alone because my web of life is so immense I'm a dope
and alone because the daily bread tastes too much like soap,
when the quiet of peace and dark blue earns my truest troth.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
poem for Brightest Star Contest