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Ten - Poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca (Jimmy Santiago Baca)

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If it does not feed the fire of your creativity, then leave it. If people and things do not inspire your heart to dream, then leave them. If you are not crazily in love and making a stupid fool of yourself, then stop closer to the edge of your heart and climb where you've been forbidden to go. Debts, accusations, assaults by enemies mean nothing, go where the fire feeds you. Turn your attention to the magic of whores, grief, addicts and drunks, until you stumble upon that shining halo surrounding your heart that will allow you to violate every fear happily, be where you're not supposed to be, the love of an angel who's caught your blood on fire again, who's gulped all of you in one breath to mix in her soul, to explode your brooding and again, your words rush from the stones like a river coursing down from some motherly mountain source, and if your life doesn't spill forth unabashedly, recklessly, randomly pushing in wonder at life, then change, leave, quit, silence the idle chatter and do away with useless acquaintances who have forgotten how to dream, bitch rudely in your dark mood at the mediocrity of scholars who meddle in whimsy for academic trifles-- let you be their object of scorn, let you be their object of mockery, let you be their chilling symbol of what they never had the courage to do, to complete, to follow, let you be the flaming faith that makes them shield their eyes as you burn from all sides, taking a harmless topic and making of it a burning galaxy or shooting stars in the dark of their souls, illuminating your sadness, your aching joy for life, your famished insistence for God and all that is creative to attend you as a witness to your struggle, let the useless banter and quick pleasures belong to others, the merchants, computer analysts and government workers; you haven't been afraid of rapture among thieves bloody duels in drunken brawls, denying yourself the essence of your soul work as poems rusted while you scratched at your heart to see if it was a diamond and not cheap pane of glass, now, then, after returning form one more poet's journey in the heart of the bear, the teeth of the wolf, the legs of the wild horse, sense what your experience tells you, your ears ringing with deception and lies and foul tastes, now that your memory is riddled with blank loss, tyrants who wielded their boastful threats to the sleeping dogs and old trees in the yards, now that you've returned form men and women who've abandoned their dreams and sit around like corpses in the grave moldering with regret, steady your heart now, my friend, with fortitude long-lasting enduring hope, and hail the early dawn like a ship off coast that's come for you, spent and ragged and beggared, if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire in your heart and blossom into poems, leave, quit, do not turn back, move fast away from that which would mold your gift, break it, disrespect it, kill it. Guard it, nurture it, take your full-flung honorable heart and plunge it into the fire into the stars, into the trees, into the hearts of others sorrow and love and restore the dream by writing of its again-discovered wild beauty. Jimmy Santiago Baca

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