i blow on her face
when she is too sleepy
to drink her milk
she’s learned to wave
and she waves at people and animals
sometimes she waves at the trees
when they blow in the wind.
If you want to meet your grandfather
get in a car and head out to the desert
put your hand out the window
and feel the air slide through your fingers
listen to the music pouring out the engine
watch the world disappear behind you
and where the highway ends and the road turns to dust
where the world shimmers and disappears
you’ll find him there
in every quiet breath.
This one held the walls at bay with his bare hands.
This one spoke to her dead mother through clenched teeth.
This one was always bothered by the sand on her feet.
This one knew that every speck of dust was just another universe.
This one was always trying to get through a large crowd to where she wanted to be.
This one just felt restless.
This one forgot her own name every morning and so she gave herself new ones when people weren’t looking.
This one never slept.
This one never grew up.
This one prayed to a tree that she once dreamed about.
This one broke something once and never forgave himself.
This one wanted to hold hands with everyone she met.
This one was angry because he’d forgotten what he was angry about.
This one knew a secret that no one else knew.
This one loved to walk barefoot on grass.
This one wanted to be held.
This one could only breathe when the second hand was on 12, 3, 6 or 9.
This one chose never to speak again.
This one touched the roof of her mouth with her tongue whenever someone blinked.
This one would draw her life story on her arms if she ever got hold of a pen.
This one wanted a blanket.
This one had a scar on his stomach from where he tried to get the monster out.
This one thought that every time you kissed, a flower opened somewhere.
This one painted in her head all day and cleaned the canvases white when she slept.
This one remembered everything about one specific day but nothing about the rest.
This one blew bubbles above the door to his home whenever visitors came.
This one cut out paper dolls and faces from magazines.
This one heard music whenever he put his ear to the floor.
This one never knew what year it was but also didn’t care.
This one was laughed at and pushed around and made fun of, just for being them.
This one wasn’t wanted.
This one thought that everything was special.
This one dreamed while walking.
This one touched her nose to every surface.
This one wanted to eat the sun.
This one couldn’t speak any language anyone else has ever spoken.
This one once swam in the ocean and it felt like flying.
This one helped his father mow the lawn in the middle of the night.
This one knew this was going to happen before it happened because it had always happened.
This one could read time like a book.
This one slept under her bed.
This one needed to know the day of the week at all times.
This one thought that everything was a joke and never stopped laughing.
This one tried to warn everyone about the creature that lived in the roof.
This one was beaten by a priest and he knew the pain was God.
This one only cried once.
This one always wanted to go ice-skating.
This one was the beat goalie the team ever had.
This one stood on his tiptoes when he thought no one was watching.
This one wouldn’t let go of her teddy bear.
This one knew each bad thing by name.
This one wanted to fly.
This one got worried when she walked under tall buildings.
This one loved jungle gyms.
This one always needed to sit on the left of the car.
This one was braver than any other man when he got into the bath each night.
This one couldn’t read but pretended she could and made up her own stories for every book.
This one pretended her hand was a movie camera and her life was a documentary.
This one was born for something better.
This one shaved all the hair off his right arm.
This one wanted an ice-cream.
This one conducted an invisible orchestra.
This one was gently bounced on her father’s knee.
This one tried to say something.
This one got confused by wires.
This one had to turn the light off before he could eat.
This one could sing.
This one memorised the faces of everyone she met.
This one just had a bad day.
This one forgot to buy milk, and kept on going back to the same shop again and again and again.
This one chewed every pen she was given.
This one sailed an imaginary ship and was always adjusting his legs.
This one only wanted to wear blue.
This one smelled flowers she was never given.
This one never wanted to leave.
This one was on her way to see someone special.
This one just wanted his winning lottery ticket back.
This one could’ve been your sister.
This one liked to tap her fingers on glass.
This one cried watercolours.
This one wanted to live in a treehouse.
This one wanted the machines out of her blood.
This one wanted a glass of water.
This one was named after a star.
This one was left alone for too long.
This one thought this was just the waiting room.
This one carved a girl’s name into a tree trunk.
This one tried to be “normal.”
This one didn’t understand why people weren’t nice.
This one needed the bathroom.
This one could only see shadows.
This one didn’t want to hurt anyone or be hurt by anyone.
This one was sleeping.
This one just wanted to go home.
It’s your birthday
I’m not sure you’re allowed those anymore
Or if you’re even allowed anything at all
But the date you were born stays the same
No one’s scratched it off the calendar
So it couldn’t hurt to ask:
If you ever just cried for no real reason
When you looked at me
The way I sometimes just cry
When I look at your granddaughter.
Our art isn’t good enough.
We call on the current artist community to resign
So that new artists can take their place.
Who will be Leonard Cohen now?
Who will be Billie Holiday now?
Who will be Maya Angelou now?
Who will you be?
In the face of the red cap.
In the face of the red arm band.
You’ve got to remember,
We’ve always been fighting.
This isn’t anything new.
We just won a battle and we rested for a while.
But we got complacent.
And now they’re back.
With their red caps.
With their red arm bands.
“Who’s going to publically shame you in a voting booth?”
“Your choice to be offended is a fashion choice.”
I’m just existing, so to stop offending you, I need to stop existing.
Do you want to stop me from existing?
How would you stop me?
With your hands around my neck?
With a rope over a tree?
Tied to a fence and not found for days?
Strapped to a bed, with electricity running through me?
Would you send me home in a bag?
Would my mother recognise my face once you were done with me?
How would you stop me from offending you?
With your red cap.
With your red arm band.
Because of you, this book became real and available out in the world. You’re amazing and sincerely appreciated for your support because without it, nothing I do would be real. The universe which made you as wonderful as you are, and me, love you. I hope you know that.
P.S. – if you were lucky enough to get a free copy last year, please take the time to leave a review on amazon.