Speak Easy

'For Us,' composed and read by Philadelphia's youth poet laureate

I want to learn how to build with an axe
how to tear the blisters harboring splinters in my hands
for the love of something new
like a home
but I've only ever learned how to tear things down in the name of hope
in the name of love someone show me how to dance
to the songs life sings
to the seconds that the hymns from the trees
hum the symphonies flapping
inside of humming birds' wings
this is for the ones who know how badly it hurts
to hear the sounds of how freedom really rings
but cast their bells loud enough
to play songs with the stars
but still dance at the speed of light because
if you've ever gazed you know that we all stare at a sky full of ghosts
this is for love becoming hope
For the soldiers who aim high
hoping to spare their country a
death sentence of one thousand years to life
when the sting of shotgun shells becomes too heavy
for the mothers who pick them up
when they hear the pounding of their sons'
and daughters' chests against
ground because her ears have always been made of
stethoscopes
her chest a pillow
her lap a prayer bed where the water is full of sin
but ready to turn to
wine thick and full of love on our bad days
this is for our bad days
for seeing how beautiful
a storm can be
How god can crack the sky with lightning
and stitch it back together with the rolls in his voice
let's call that thunder
let's call him clockmaker
for every hour that the
earth spends ticking on its axis telling
the tales
we cried to
laughed to together
this is for loving contradiction
for the skeptic atheist clutching a
bible in hopes that paradise is real
for holding hands with women in bloody burkas
in the name of living
this is for living
for the days we laugh at the sun
and cry in the rain
this is for us
this is for love.

Soledad Alfaro-Allah, of Mt. Airy, is Philadelphia's newest youth poet laureate. During her tenure, she will work with Philadelphia poet laureate Frank Sherlock. She will spend the summer studying for the SAT and working on her poetry. She hopes to become a neurosurgeon.

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