A Million Ways

I wish to know a million ways to hurt:

With fist and sword,

With smile, with thought and word,

So from a million ways to hurt

I could protect you,

Who lives at war with the world

Your own mind has created;

/

I’ll learn my arts

From pretend saints and their demons,

From those, who buy what can’t be bought,

Who, to sell water, cause a draught,

From those, who drench their lands in blood

As if to please not their confused hearts

But a god;

/

I’ll sprout a million hands

And place in each a weapon;

I’ll grow a million heads

And poison each with ignorance;

I’ll stand on a million legs so strong,

With each my step the Earth will shake,

And I will slay, destroy and dance

Until but dust – and you – remain;

/

I wished to know a million ways to hurt,

So I could give you this clean sheet

To paint a world,

Where there’s no need for pain or fear,

Or monsters of unalterable pasts;

Where none finds joy in harming or in suffering;

Where there’s no place for me, at last

The Firebird

Along the road between past and future

If you glimpsed me run, could you tell

Whether I was still pushing forward

Or retreating under the blows of pain?

/

If you witnessed me freeze and bend double,

Burying my face in shaking hands,

Would you think I was laughing at a joke’s echo

Or weeping helplessly over a secret hurt?

/

With my feet in the air and arms outstretched,

If you saw how I leaped off the edge,

Would you choose to imagine me soaring,

Or, acknowledging gravity, falling to death?

/

You won’t know: our paths have crossed for but a moment;

Let’s say that I ran forward, that I joyfully laughed,

And when I came to the edge of the world and stepped off it,

Let’s believe that I turned

Into a firebird

Cinderella Walks

My shoes of dazzling diamonds

Have spikes on the inside;

The beauty I see when I walk

They turn into scorchingly painful nightmares;

/

My dresses, which like spring waters flow –

Were hand-woven from living adders;

When I walk, their touch makes my skin crawl

And my veins – overflow with venom;

/

My smile is the gate to my heart –

It’s a scar that refuses to heal,

Proudly showing itself to the world as I walk;

I once believed naively that scars, too, had appeal;

/

My eyes from two grains of grey sand

Have grown into two mountains of granite;

I carry my mountains wherever I walk,

And dance on their slopes with bleeding feet,

A crippled smile, wearing Cinderella’s cerement

Dorian Gray/The Map

How heavy you’ve become,

My eyelids!

How small and pale you look,

My lips!

/

How many branches

Have the wrinkles

Upon this tree

Of memories!

/

How many deaths

Have closed these eyes and

How many times

This skin has been reborn!

/

How many lives,

In one assembled,

Make up the face

I call my own!

/

I look at it –

How I abhor it:

The greed it stands for,

The impatience!

/

I look at it –

And I rejoice to

See painted on it

Love, forgiveness, grace;

/

One thing is certain –

There’s no room for

Another route

Upon this busy map;

/

The only place

That it can lead to

Is but another

Hellish maze;

/

I’ll rip that map

To puzzle pieces;

And draw a new one

In its place;

/

All I have been

And all I’ve cherished

I must let go of

And replace;

/

Beyond regret,

In a chest of treasures,

I’ll keep

The puzzle of the past;

/

And none will see

The real face of

Dorian Grey

Until he dies