for Emmitt

If your destiny is all rasp, concrete, and broken glass

If you never venture to the mountain top

never hear your own cry echoing or stand alone 

with all the grace and agony laid out before you— 

well imagine yourself 

scanned through the storyteller’s filter 

your journey clear, the hero who never dies 

trying to ascend jagged cliff, but must prevail 

only after teetering on the edge

why not thrive and spray your name in giant neon 

If you’ve never stumbled barefoot along a sandy beach 

plundered seashells and laughed 

at revelation of salt wind, never been tumbled 

in last breaking wave

If you fall asleep to the pop-crack cadence 

of a small caliber lullaby

never lain in itchy grass trying to count a night sky

If you’ve never carved a totem of stars, never been a fool 

lost in the woods, If you’ve never slept in a tree fort 

of your own improvised design 

Born at the behest of chance, casual victim of timing

why not paint your canvass sky crystalline blue 

daub cotton clouds and with a stroke 

tame the surge of wildest rivers and run fulfilled 

through lemon-yellow cornfields— 

why not let the wolf lick your bleeding heel?     


Alan Gann, a teaching artist-poet, tutors and facilitates writing workshops at Texans Can Academy. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, That’s Entertainment (Lamar University Press, 2018) and Adventures of the Clumsy Juggler (Inkbrush Press, 2014), as well as DaVerse Works, a performance poetry curriculum (Big Thought, 2013). Alan’s nonexistent spare time is spent outdoors: biking, birding, and trying to photograph some of the cool things he sees there.