A Thousand Cranes, Volume 10 // Sample Chapter

A Thousand Cranes, Volume 10 by Ashlee Craft

One Thousand Cranes

the artistpoet has fought for her place in the world,
& even harder for her happiness

she thinks back upon when she took
a thousand sheets of paper, in the golden lighting of afternoon
how she once she put her entire heart & soul into each fold
how she let them go out in the world to fly free,
how they left, searching for the receiver of the Dream
how she hadn’t seen them in a while, how she wondered
if she’d ever see them again,
if they were coming back

she had changed so much since then


Tree House Question

forgotten, I found the chest of treasure buried
I tried to see but the rain was too heavy
& looked for a split second longer than I intended
but it was enough to give it away that I wanted something better

a puddle of gold lying in the middle of the floor
I rushed towards it, only to find it evaporate
in the old plot of land that was derelict & overgrown
I threw a handful of seeds & watched them grow

rectified, I found the quotations written
on the old walls of buildings & searched through
endless books of words, trying to find just one
that described how I felt about you


One for the Money

invest in the respect that you deserve

never doubt the ability of sunlight to grow flowers
find just the right place to put them & watch
as they flourish & blossom

should you search further, or just give up now?
hold your head up a little higher
invest in the dreams you know belong to you
on & on, hold on, push on, dream on
never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough



I followed in your footsteps because we were both broken;
rewrote the stories, sad lines & tragedies that came from your mouth, personalizing them for my own lips to speak next
& tattooed each scar upon your skin onto my own;

I looked to you as my role model for pain; mimicked your stoical expressions
& bled the same manner that you did; watched red emerge from me, tears ran across my skin; I tried to feel pain the same way you did, & tried let it destroy me
because if I let it break me, then I’d be more like you
shards slashing deep down inside; guttural cries & screams sobbing in the night
repeating to myself over & over again mantras of how I could not make it through the dark
clinging to fragile threads of silk as if they could save me from this

& I clung to you because you were broken too;
because I saw something of myself reflected in your eyes
the tired way they looked at things as if you couldn’t hold on
another day, another breath, another second longer
but when you started drowning I couldn’t keep holding onto you
because it was then I realized that I didn’t want to be broken
that I deserved something better than this
that I didn’t have to be broken to be loved



1. a billion words that all mean the same thing
2. time & time again I lost you only to find you sitting on the edge of the bridge, feet hanging into the water, being held afloat by the arms of trees, hugging you refusing to let you go until you were safe in my arms again, safe from the demons inside you
3. have you noticed how rainbows reflect in water while the long arms of moonbeams glisten through clouds & eradicate the feeling that you are alone & helpless?
4. rabbit hopped across empty forest floor & didn’t run when I approached, instead looking back at me with total trust, knowing I meant no harm & would tread gently upon the fallen leaves
5. daylight is here again & I am not afraid


Taxicab Afternoon

reflected in stained glass windows city buildings cold cement stones beneath my feet / overlooked by iron wrought gates & yesterday’s news, blown into the sun & burnt to a crisp before the headlines can be pronounced & appropriated, jaywalking across open boards & pallets left in the centers of the floors, horrible fonts written on street signs that are supposed to be prestigious but just end up looking like a big joke / I cannot stop the flow of raindrops, my hands & clothes are soaked & even the umbrella over my head, as much as I would like it to, cannot stop the speeding torrent flow of water / & I feel helpless to the streams running past me & around me, pouring & draining down the outsides of buildings, pooling & flooding around my feet, & I am in the locked room as it slowly fills to the top / there is a door but I am unsure if I can reach it & I am afraid of what might happen if I do, that maybe a great ocean awaits me on the other side, thunderstorms & darkness endless night / I am afraid of losing it all, everything I own being washed into the sea taken from me before I can even realize what is happening / I am afraid of it all falling to pieces despite my attempts to quell the storm outside, hands up to the sky pleading for it to stop, trying to protect myself from droplets soaking me deeper, rain making my clothes so heavy that I will sink, but no roof offers me protection from the things I am afraid of / it all must be inside me then

I burst from the building I am hiding in & run out onto the warm heated cement of the city / the sun beats hot upon my back & am running, running through puddles, splashed by the puddles & breathing in & out evaporated rain, the air is heavy & it’s hard to breathe here, but my feet keep pounding on pavement I have to escape I have to escape but I have to escape from this / I looked towards billboards, saw empty taxicabs driving towards the fearless sun, off into the sunset, & thought cynically about how the day is saved & everything is okay & they ride off into the sunset as if there isn’t any chance that things could ever be worse again / they ride towards a life without trouble, a life which doesn’t exist, & they’re lying to all of us, saying that when the trouble is over things won’t be bad again, will never be bad again, could never be anymore difficulties or pain or suffering / that riding off into the sunset never happens, because the sun sets then & it is night & the dark is frightening, & the sun rises & it keeps repeating & happening all the same, all over again / but then I realized this / that maybe the ride into the sunset isn’t about the fact that nothing will ever be wrong again, that the darkness is all over, that hell has all been obliterated / that maybe, you can ride off into the sunset knowing that things will not be perfect forever, knowing that things won’t always be easy, knowing that there will still be nights, still be things to overcome, still be pain that brings you to your knees & threatens to overtake you / but knowing that for now, you are okay, you are okay, & that is all that matters, knowing that when the shadows & monsters do rise up again, that you are strong enough now to take care of them



I remember my sunflowers, remember that
they continue to exist & bloom
even when the yellow of their petals
or the joy they invoked in you as a child
has been forgotten

remember how I planted them
or the dreams slowly nurtured beneath the surface
tangible symbolism that there were still
yellow flowers, out there


& I have forgiven myself for my misgivings


a deep & unrelenting hope in my words;
even when it feels like it will be this way forever
the belief that there is always something to cling to
& that tomorrow
is real too, that the sunflowers
will still be there when I open my eyes


One Thousand

a thousand cranes, riding on infusions of innocent stories / in the darkness there is a meshing of sounds, a floral surprise, & that person who finds raindrops in tree hollows lies in a cocoon on the anniversary of friendship, saying quietly to themselves, “I am so much stronger now” / so don’t be afraid when you’re holding onto hope / the things that’ll get you through will be little things, like old books, & listening, that are the bricks to good luck, a perfect day that can be yours if you will let it / it’s like opening my eyes for the first time – no matter what sorrows float my way, there is borealis & words of kindness & challenges & mountains & so many things left undiscovered / I know you can do it / think back upon when everything was easy, running thru sprinklers in the summer, beyond the sun you sat in quiet solitude, holding onto locks & keys but not knowing how to take the reins & run with it / the moonlight on the water reflects your own self back at you, you are not the lost dog that you think yourself to be sometimes / whispered words in the night & neon / whispering “that’s why I like you I guess” / the little tree finds homes in space & clocks of time keep whispering “I am here now” but maybe one day I will be still be asking those questions, questions, questions, & why? / what about understanding the completed dreams in the night, about how better days are coming soon if I could only get out there, only get out there! / I sob with fear, burning lists of the way things were, & tomorrow is like an alligator hidden beneath the pond weeds, I don’t know when it will strike, only that it is there / but was I ever really broken, or the whole time just crackling with electricity? / this is the month to make it happen, I can feel it like heat lightning, bright dark bright, beach lights flood down looking into your eyes, into your soul, & finally I am able to forgive myself early in the morning / my window is open, I smell the aroma of summer, posting the complex letters of possibility in the broken silence, mocking masquerades of making it / poetry of koi is casting away doubt, RAIN RAIN RAIN tumbles down justifications of jaded jaunts / I dance madly in a haiku of possibility, furiously asking myself why do you keep running, you can only run so far before you are exhausted, ideas are there, I never even needed you at all / raindrops on car windows & sudden familiar music bring me to my senses on a peaceful evening when I am tentative to go deeper into my thoughts, a swan afraid to fly, even though to do so might be beautiful / boxcar summer tracks…where have they gone, disappearing when I was not looking? / our brief time together made me say one too many times, “no, I’m not listening” / silver spoons & wishes on stars will never bring back what I once felt, love poetry only reminds me bitterly of how things used to be, & where my loyalties lie / bookstores & libraries are my homes, the art life, I don’t find any comfort counting hours, counting days, it reminds me of how broken I am, a pyramid waiting to fall, a turtle which cannot retreat into its shell, even though it desperately needs sleep / but here I am, making the world beautiful in the shadows & remaining hidden in secret gardens, asking myself who do I want to become? / all I want is to be passionately absorbed in life / it is a journey just beginning, little adventures piling up because there is so much to gain by it, the best is yet to come, these transitions into the life I always want will be painful, but are possible



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