A Thousand Cranes, Volume 4 // Sample Chapter

A Thousand Cranes, Volume 4 by Ashlee Craft

Releasing the Cranes into the World

I have labored many long hours
& put my very soul into my creations
I have imbued them with every bit of love inside my soul
& inside them you will find an exact documentation of the person I am
& the person I once was
& the person I am still yet to be
inside them you will find my every hope, my every dream
my fears, my sorrows, my angers
my messages to the world
mere messages in a bottle floating upon the endless ocean
waiting to arrive at the right place at the right time
so they can inspire the right person in the most perfect way imaginable
yes, often times they are messages of hope
messages that that can do this
messages to show them that the world is beautiful still
but sometimes they bring messages of anger or fear or sadness
yet in the end these feelings are just as important
important to feel, & important to acknowledge as well
important to remind others that they are not alone in their feelings
important to be aware of both the light & the darkness
for one could not exist without the other
& you couldn’t see the stars without the night
& so I permeate these words & sounds & images with these hopes & dreams
fears & angers & sorrows
painting a portrait of the soul inside my body
because in the end I have to
I have to show the world who I am
I have to release these messages in a bottle
these paper cranes
into the world
I have to free them from inside me & put them out into the world
have to liberate them from the chains they’ve come to know
release them from my bedroom window at night
when the moon is at her peak in the sky
or from the garden bench in the sunny afternoon
when the fragrant aromas of flowers drift into my nostrils
or from a balcony in the spring morning
when the breeze smelling of endless possibilities caresses against my skin
I must do this so these paper cranes can fly free
I must let them fly, must let them have their freedom
it is their right
just as it is mine



you are so so special / you are perfect & beautiful & wonderful just the way you are / there has never been anyone else just like you / & there never will be again / you are unique in every single way / & your struggles only make you stronger / you are stronger now than you’ve ever been before in your whole life / you are stronger now than you ever believed was possible

forgive yourself & move on / I know your memories still haunt you in the deep of night / I know fear still bangs upon your window in time with your racing heart / I know sometimes you just don’t know what to do / but you cannot help how you feel / just do your best (it’s all you can do) / & things will be okay for you someday / trust in this, you can make it thru the storm / things may not be better today, but maybe they will be tomorrow

I know you are well acquainted with pain & suffering & sorrow / I know you have spent many nights clutched in anguish’s grasp crying out to a world which doesn’t seem to listen / but it is this pain that will allow you to stand strong against the winds of time, against life’s sorrows & trials / for once you have conquered this pain

you will know you are strong enough

& you will know how to win



in the city the air was humid & thick & warm & damp / it was summer / down the streets crowded with vegetable stands & carts & taxi cabs people stood around bustling busily / & the children huddled in the often decrepit but beautiful doorways of the buildings / taxis beeped & honked & people called & shouted / adding a unique rhythm to the rhapsodies / & like ocean waves people moved amongst each other, each heading their own directions / tourists stopped every once in a while to buy something they could bring to remind them of their time there, once-in-a-lifetime gifts / there was a guitarist playing in the street, his guitar case spread out in front of him like a blanket as several men & women stood around to watch & smile as the breeze blew against their faces & uplifted their faces & to feel the music, palpable in the air, to feel it inside them / & each dark crevice was enlightened

a deliciously chaotic & beautiful scene I bask in


Judgment of a Hero

on the road down to the party he was invited to out of respect
people shunned him in the streets, thinking his appearance was ugly in every aspect
he cringed as without a second glance they turned away, their judgment locked
but the man still walked on & held his head high at their objection
he knew who he was, he had nothing to fear
nothing they could think of him could change his mind’s foundation block
as soon as he entered the room the label was pinned upon his shirt
when he tried to spark a conversation he was met with remarks cold & curt
many pairs of eyes tracked his feet across the floor before a clearing was made in assumptions
as he went across the dance floor with head held high, they noted no feelings of disconcert
he knew who he was; he had no need to worry
& no one seemed to notice he was wearing the only suit in the room
the man sat down on the couch & to his amusement, all upon it left
he chuckled a little bit to himself as he leaned back to relaxed, by no means bereft
if they wanted to act so coldly to him it was their loss, but his gain
if only they had been there that day & seen his hands so strong & deft
but he knew who he was, he had no reason to think else
when they knew what he’d done they’d be reluctant in their cold shouldered refrain
finally the host of the party walked into the room, greeted guests, & gestured at the man
the unknowing guests stared in looks of pure shock as the host began
“ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been brought here tonight in respect for the heroism of this man
a couple of weeks ago a child was stabbed in the leg by a robber’s escape plan
this man here heard the scream, he fought off the assailant then went to the child
& he stayed there for who knows how long stopping the bleeding in the limb”
“so when you see him here tonight, think of the young life he saved
& how long he was with the child before help arrived & death’s pledge he depraved
I have never judged a man by anything more than who he truly is & by what his actions show
but to find that out you must get to know him by more than who you expect him to behave”
the man looked away as he’d done what he’d done from his heart, not for attention & praise
but the guests looked away in shame for their judgment of a hero


What is Love?

stories without answers lay across the floor
songs without music spill from my hollow hands
the innocence I accepted has been locked in chains
& it causes me to question
what is love?

thoughts without silence sing out through my mind
as your words far away mingle gently with mine
serenity is bound to stone, leaving behind a fluttering heart
& it causes me to wonder
what is love?

they say that when I see, I’ll know what I’ve missed for so long
but I can’t understand how many times before that I have been so wrong
as my eyes, dewy with new ideas, flutter to a open place
it causes me to marvel
what is love?

time without the beating of a never ending clock
reaches into the depths of the ocean & reveals a shining gleam
in the endless indelible fortune that I once assumed I knew
& I stare into the void of questions I contemplate
what is love?

even thru sleepless nights streams of mind never cease to flow
without question or doubt I know that soon I’ll find the truth
corroded things I was caught up in have faded, blown in the breeze
& it causes me to reflect
what is love?

helplessly jumping into the dark shaded lake without seeing the sunbeams shadowing under
the misunderstood things I’ve forgotten to need I see flashing further & dimmer as I go down
& yet I know where I am heading
what is love?

they say that when I see, I’ll know what I’ve missed for so long
but I can’t understand how many times before that I have been wrong
& my eyes, dewy with new ideas, flutter to a open place
it causes me to feel
what is love


Reluctantly Brilliant

I’m sorry if you believed the sarcastic joke I just made
you seem to think I hide beneath careful wanderings of masquerade
I was just trying to say something that hadn’t been said
expand my wit, but aren’t we all trying to get ahead?

I wasn’t serious when I said I’d like to write something I could show
so reluctantly brilliant that it’d seem like Van Gogh
I was just trying to open the closed blinds to dark remand
& remind you the best things are those we can’t understand

& as reluctantly brilliant as this all may seem
if you looked the right way, you’d see what I mean
I’m sorry if you take all that I say with a cynical gaze
but you’re caught behind glass walls & five second delays

I was just trying to get you to take life with less shoulder weight
you should sell what you made from your lies & your mistakes
I wasn’t kidding when I told you that you would change your mind
because I understand that to belittle others your soul is inclined

I was just trying to get you to see things from different eyes
maybe now you’ll notice years ago the bowline anchor untied
& as reluctantly brilliant as this all may seem
if you looked the right way, you’d see what I mean.

I’m sorry if I offended you by pointing out what is true
but I needed you to realize what you say you don’t use
I was just trying to make you see that they way isn’t scorn
but I’ve stopped, realized no one can make rhymes with orange

I’m not sorry that you now know what I really think
I’ve wanted to tell you for so long I what I really mean
I was trying the whole time for you to see that you don’t know me
just as I’ll never know why you believe what you preach

& as reluctantly brilliant as this all may seem
because if you looked the right way, you’d see what I mean



oh, you beautiful sloth
you take your time as you climb along
upside down in comparison to most of the world
& yet because of this you see things with your own unique viewpoint
you don’t care how fast the rest of the world might move
because you understand that enjoying each moment
is one of the things that make life beautiful
oh, you beautiful sloth
never stop being all that you are


Into the Night

at the convenience store down on old country road / Jackson rubbed his eyes & wondered why he hadn’t known / that sometimes when you love it turns around & gets off the right track / he never thought she could drive off into the night & never look back

her heart was of gold & her soul seemed so fine / but loyalty in her had lost before it even had tried / & the weight upon her shoulders would never hold / as she sped off alone in the night with the secrets she’d told

Jackson walks back to his car but first looks back / down the street she sped so regally, down with fool’s reckless knack / why had she been so silent, why didn’t she seem to care? / when she sped off into the night like she’d never even been there

Jackson’s engine gurgles to its usual starling haze / as he contemplates making a half-hearted chase / but did she ever love him, or was it all just a show? / as she sped off into the night without answers she owed

as the sun rose she’s having second thoughts / should she go back to him, will she find the love that was sought? / she continues going forward, she’s going to stand for what she was believing / as she sped off into the night with a heart lightened by leaving

Jackson looks up to the freedom lit sun / no one left to drag him down, a new chapter has begun / maybe the two of them will be better off now that / she sped off into the night to never looked back


The Birth of a Dream

hollow hearted hopelessness was created by years of wear & tear
in the sea of broken dreams, I almost sank by the hand of despair
whether I waited days or weeks for this day, I’ll never know why
something inside me sparked a new life & gave me wings to fly
the birth of a dream
feeds the fire of questions shot in all directions
the birth of a dream
sheltered me from the storm by the dark cave’s protection
& in the middle of the night
I take refuge in the birth of a dream
looking back, I find myself questioning how things may have been
but soon I remind myself I shouldn’t think in terms of if
our hearts connected surely but know things are never quite what they seem
but I know none of this would have happened without the birth of a dream
from the moment that the sun rose into my sorrow that ran so deep
I laid awake in bed wondering why, losing sleep
whether I questioned if I had the will to succeed or the courage to even try
was left up to my heart as it was tossed in the air & forced to learn to fly
& it was then, only then
that I discovered what for then had to be seen
that so many wonderful things can bloom
from the birth of a dream


On a Whim

fast paced human race
racing at an indifferent pace
leaving me dreaming in the back
of a new day rising
old times start to mime
they reason for their treason
stopping only to swoop down
grab a soul & go
looking out the window
peeking through the blinds
sentimental connections
between two hopeful minds
& the sky collapsed above me
& the stars all seem to dim
when I first decided it was I would love you
on a whim, on a whim

& the ocean seems to darken
the sun can’t shine as bright as before
hazy moonlight trembled in your eyes when you knew
on a whim

mind flows in a spindle
what must I do to believe you
hard times painted on
my future subscribes
day breaks
what can I do?
sand dripping from between torn thoughts
all I notice I need is you
in my heart
I have always known that there would be someone here but me.
darkened nights alone in my heart
I cry out from within but everyone speeds past unknowing
now here’s my last chance
if I can’t find a way what will I do.
what will I do?

when every breathing moment of being all I’ve ever dreamed of was seeing
all I ever cried out for & all I ever hungered for
was someone to shut out the darkness
was someone to show me the way
was someone to love me
but all along it had only been me
that needed to learn how to love
when I noticed it ran in a constant circle
when I’d tested the waters & seen
the sun can’t shine as bright as before
because your love light surrounds us now
my soul has been saved the darkness has passed
all because I found you
& all because I took the chance & decided to love you
on a whim


The Grass is Greener

today I looked and I saw a path
one that I’d thought I’d lost before
but now I suddenly found it had come back
& tonight when I walked out the back door
I saw that what I thought
was just a figment of things left over from before
stepping across the glassy rocks outside
the grass really is greener on the other side I thought
& I ignored the knowledge of the lies
those who try to tell you
there isn’t something better out there for you
have just never seen that there is
& that there is always room to make things better
so never stop improving


A Jar of Light

a jar of light surrounded by paper cranes
& balloons of all colors floating up into the sky
& sun warmed moonstones grasped in my hands
& magic jars of sparkling candles set out on dewy grass
& stars twinkling with ineffable profundity in the sparkling water at night
filling my soul with hope
& a jar of light filled with fireflies illuminating the night
only you can open the lid & set them free
& let them fly once more in the night
it is a jar of light
& every choice from now regarding it
is yours


Kindle Edition