PILGRIMAGES, Ashe Vernon, “To the Boys Afraid of Dying” (4/6)

Ashe VernonAshe Vernon-01‘s poetry first came to my attention a couple of years ago when I began to see three short lines of her writing popping up everywhere I went on Tumblr: “There are poets who sing you to sleep / and poets who ready you for war / and I want to be both.” It’s exactly that sort of fierce softness that makes her poetry so great–it heals wounds as much as it exposes them, often both at the same time. The complex emotional journeys she writes of have sent me on my own inner pilgrimages of self-reflection numerous times–and they’ve inspired me to consider what my own version of tough vulnerability looks like in my own writing.
~Kim Kaletsky, Ideablog Managing Editor


To the Boys Afraid of Dying

They said you had no right
to the softer parts inside your chest.
They said
you were better off without them.
They said
it made you weak.
I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry.

Your papa taught you
looks better in a clenched fist and
she comes at your body like a feast.
She picks you clean, then wants to know
why you are so empty.
She leaves.
She leaves.

I cannot be the place you go to bury her.

You will have to learn to be alone.
This is strength, but not in the way
your father taught it to you. No—
you have to learn and relearn softness
without hands smaller than your own
carrying it for you.
You will have to be brave.
is nothing less
than revolutionary.

You are more than the heartbreak
you didn’t know what to do with.
When you reach the cliff’s edge,
you will feel like jumping.
it is courage,
not fear,
that makes you step back.

This poem was originally published on her blog here.

1660663_10200794327375356_1363430195_n~~~Ashe Vernon is a 22 year old day-dreamer from Houston, Texas. She recently finished a cross-country poetry tour and is readjusting to the kind of adult life where you don’t get on a microphone and cry in front of strangers every other night. She has published two books of poetry–Belly of the Beast and Wrong Side of a Fistfight. Ashe is a tiny person with very small hands and a whole lot to say about it. More of her work can be found at latenightcornerstore.com.

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