I'm currently working a poem that lists: dos and don'ts, beliefs, rules, what I'm for and against, and this is one of the model poems I've found helpful. It's a tough line to walk, between uplifting and cheesy, and Taylor Mali toes it here. I don't care. There are too many sweet little nuggets: the image of champagne flutes in a car trunk, the idea of celebrating "long, cold winters" (HA), and the simple inspiration of "And as far as writing poems goes,/I guess you should." Yes, yes I know. I should.
Silver‐Lined Heart by Taylor Mali
I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!
Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless;
Here’s to the soul‐expanding power of the universally
optimistic simplicity of the beautiful.
See, things you hate, things you despise,
multinational corporations and lies that politicians tell,
injustices that make you mad as hell,
that’s all well and good.
And as far as writing poems goes,
I guess you should.
It just might be a poem that gets Mumia released,
brings an end to terrorism or peace in the middle east.
But as far as what soothes me, what inspires and moves me,
honesty behooves me to tell you your rage doesn’t move me.
See, like the darkest of clouds my heart has a silver lining,
which does not harken to the loudest whining,
but beats and stirs and grows ever more
when I learn of the things you’re actually for.
That’s why I’m for best friends, long drives, and smiles,
nothing but the sound of thinking for miles.
For the unconditional love of dogs:
may we learn the lessons of their love by heart.
For therapy when you need it,
and poetry when you need it.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I’m for hard work, and homework,
and chapter tests, and cumulative exams,
and yearly science fairs, and pop quizzes
when you least expect them just to keep everybody honest.
For love and the fragile human heart,
may it always heal stronger than it was before.
For walks in the woods, and the for the woods themselves,
by which I mean the trees. Definitely for the trees.
Window seats, and locally brewed beer,
and love letters written by hand with fountain pens:
I’m for all of these.
For Galway Kinnell, and Rufus Wainright,
and Mos Def, and the Indigo Girls,
and getting closer to fine each and every day.
For the integrity it takes not to lightly suffer fools.
For God, and faith, and prayers, but not in public schools.
I’m for evolution more than revolution
unless you’re offering some kind of solution.
Isn’t that how we got the Consitution?
For charm and charisma and style
without being a self‐important prig.
For chivalry and being a gentleman at the risk of being called a male chauvinist pig.
I’m for crushes not acted upon, for admiration from afar,
for intense sessions of self love,
especially if they make you a nicer person.
I’m for the courage it takes to volunteer, to say “yes,” “I believe in this,” and “I will.”
For the bright side, the glass half full, the silver lining,
and the optimists who consider darkness just a different kind of shining.
I’m for what can be achieved more than for what i would want in an ideal world.
I’m for working every day to make the world a better place
and not complaining about how it isn’t
So don’t waste my time and your curses on verses
about what you are against, despise, and abhor.
Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you,
put your gaddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!