A Thousand Cranes, Volume 5 // Sample Chapter

A Thousand Cranes, Volume 5 by Ashlee Craft


the lost soul wandering thru the darkness
icy air, but her heart is warm
& hands even warmer inside handmade gloves
stumbling over piles of snow she makes her way home
there is no light to guide her & yet her feet still remember
how she walked these roads many months ago
in the summer when everything was beautiful
& how everything seemed invincible back then
now she returns older & wiser
knowing that everything on its own cannot be eternal
that despite the sun shining radiantly
winter must find the way into the world
& snow must fall
& the moon must come out
yes, she has been lost before
she returns injured inside & out
she has braced herself against the wilderness
& against demons
both in the world
& the demons within
& she has won over them
for now
she is not broken
she still remembers that night years ago
when she sat in her bedroom
& folded one thousand paper cranes
because she was hurting inside & it was the only thing
that could make it better
& now she wanders out there all alone in the cold
she thinks she is lost
but she is not
she is on her way home
she is on her way home
& as long as she is heading back to that place
that she knows
she might be lost
but hope cannot be
she has come back home

What is Life?

the day awakens like a sleeping child rising & stretching like the sunlit waters in the ocean / my eyelids spring open, shutters being broken free of the nails that glued them in place & shut out the darkness for so long / the wheels & cogs in my mind begin to turn as a yarn in spun before my just opened eyes is created by the fibres of time / I am no longer able to look at life in an ordinary manner without remembering the experiences that led me to see what things were really were about & why we’re here & all of those questions that haunt & consume the minds of the genius’ scientific closure & twisted philosophies / I can no longer doubt the person I am becoming

how & why do they think they, with their broken ideas & idealized persuasion, can tell us what that truth is? / shouldn’t we be entitled to find out own truths? / & do they even come up with their own truths, or do they only take pleasure in telling others that they are not good enough? / why shouldn’t we all search for our own selves to figure out who we are rather than accepting that, just because they tell us the way things are, that we must believe them & all be bound to the same stereotypes while ignoring the people we really are? / the lost minds that they murdered with paper follow behind them like a reaper, waiting for them to slip & fall before this invisible undertaker pulls them beneath the load of mindless profit that they wasted & suffocated their minds with / how can we even begin to put our faith in society’s idea of who is beautiful & who is ugly & who is good enough & who is nothing?

what is proof? / how can we prove that we are better or worse than anyone else when we ourselves can still be judged by others / how can we believe that where we stand along the conveyor belt when there will always be people better & worse than us no matter where we stand? / if the tress shall fall, how should we prove what happened if we are not inside the forest beneath the bark itself? / & proof of what? / there is no difference between anything, only what we think

& if everything is proof & nothing is proof, than there is nothing for us to prove to anyone but ourselves / what is truth? / what if we realized that we were all the explorers, the adventurers, the creators of the very lives we live? / the truth lies hidden to those who do not seek it / but the truth appears as ready as the August sun above the sunny meadow, reflecting the stories of the timeless passages onto the people’s faces as they stand & stare into the depths before them & the truly begin to see that they are society & they are humanity & that if they don’t like how it is they must be the change they wish was there

ice shatters as the flowers blooming upwards to the piano bench shaped songs & the guitar player & melodious speech / the time of the moonlighting has come & there is nothing left to fight about / reality is a glimpse of the future & the present is the past & the future, hybrid to smile & touch the hills of the human mind as they explore it through laughter & tears from the wells of our souls / tortured souls they are, running & thinking they know the executives well, acting like they know the executives of the world & they are the masters of any room, while in truth their souls fight to be above the rest when in doubt they are actually fighting to be below us by their actions / the pessimism muses silently to Juliet as she combs her honey-colored hair & dreams invisible dreams of misunderstood destinies & jewel beetles & flowers that refract every color of light that ever was here / & wasn’t gone / the breeze blows in the nights like cotton sheets beneath me, wavering & faulting & ending up sitting & doing nothing for nothing / why can’t we do something for something?

the melting clocks fade away & into view as the work looms in front of me like the most devious tasks as I try to find some way, some excuse, to get away from this mind-numbing vat of worthless misinformation that is hell to a free spirit / Logan’s eyes leer in the distance, laughing at my silent failure as I can’t explain why I should not be thinking of these things & spending my life as a blind wallflower, waiting for some sort of cold-hearted opportunity to spring to their feet, shouting at my door, banging it down, while I lie on the sofa & dream about tomorrow / waiting for Opportunity to spring along my carpeted floor & scream in my ear that they were there, & me to spring to my feet without another word on my part & go straight to work without thinking about the commitment I was making & stopping only to straighten my shoe / what is life anyway?


onwards, always onwards
forever moving forwards
like the river whispering thru the stones
or the wind forever caressing tree branches
if you’re not moving forward
are you really there at all?

Down on the Old Street

someday I’ll smile that the search is over when you come home to my open arms
the rhyme & reason of the wizard is whispered in signs of freedom’s chimes
somewhere across the universe a blackbird against the wind cries
while all by myself I act naturally, hoping all things must pass

as I went out one morning to see the band on the run read between the lines
I was all out of love, it wasn’t dark yet, yet I still felt I was reeling in the years
the queen and Quinn took the Buick for a spin with Bennie & the desperado in the back
Mr. Jones, left behind called to him, just like the evil woman he wished was here

the dark desert highway warned me to beware of the darkness of night
& the California dreamin’ piano man sung a duet with the tiny dancer
diamonds & rust laid on desolation’s street, you can find them any time at all
Prudence & Rhiannon for the fourth time shouted “it’s getting better!”
get back to the hill & fix the hole the unwritten shooting star sailed away
it’ll take a thousand years to make you feel my love, so let’s go somewhere only we know & try to fix you & your problems

all I needed was love & I knew you could show me, you got it right from the start
you didn’t stop believing or didn’t let it show, you just colored my world & let it be
over the bridge of dreams that beautiful night you brought me home
troubled waters & rambling stairways came together & asked if you believed
I rambled on & went home as the candle blowing in the wind brought these dreams back to life

help me, give me shelter from the storm, I just want you to be near me so don’t let me down & don’t bring me down
don’t think twice & don’t worry baby, just dream on, loneliness comes from nowhere
yet it must go somewhere for no one
I’ve had enough time in the diamond bay under calico skies of yellow roads during that year of the cat
the hurricane storms outside my windowpane, I pray please bring him home, because I’ve spent so much time on my own
dreaming a dream of an English garden with you, I promise you I will. I’ll be there

forever young flying like a butterfly in the air tonight I send all of my love pleading that you will call me so my soul can soar higher & higher
it’s a beautiful morning & I must move on like a rolling stone
& even if the sun returns I’m on the winding road again trying to stop fooling myself so I can sail away again & believe that the
show goes on
the pawn’s photograph & the rose’s simple twist of fate leaves no silver hammer behind for Layla to find
my love, remember that things will get easier
so find freedom rhymes from the hard rainy day’s tomorrow

in your own special way I imagined a hero who’s written a song for everyone
but the landslide in your song’s sailing purple haze, you sail through the night unseen & unfazed
imagine looking around to see it isn’t so, & you’re amazed sailing by swaying daisies as you try to catch the wind
Rhonda settles down over fourth street’s farm near the fields of strawberries & gates leading to the hill where we once danced in
the moonlight

yesterday I saw you in the street & I realized things have changed
you’re just a memory, now it’s us & them & I don’t think we can work it out
your song played on the radio as I went down a yellow brick road
but even though I know this is a wonderful world sometimes I can’t get any satisfaction
I once heard it thru the grapevine that I didn’t have sorrow, I had life
& it was like magic when I saw joyous explosions in the sky
& a few paper birds fluttered overhead

but all I keep thinking is that I want you back, I want to bask in the sunshine of your love once more, it was all a grand illusion
but I’m all alone now yet I’m doing alright so I spread my wings & realized I was free
I shouted hallelujah & walked down a boulevard of broken dreams while in the distance I still heard echoes of you & I but it’s funny how love is
but I chose to carry on when I was lost & knew I could hold on because I had all my life left to get back to the light
so I danced in the streets & I said to myself, “I’m gonna fly now.”


dulled down with pain. You can’t
stand & you can’t see. Because the lights
have all gone out & you’re standing. There alone
numbed by pain & numbed by time
you think you’re okay but I know. You’re not
I can see the pain in your eyes & the suffering
inside you that you try so bravely to hide
but it spills out the windows to your soul
in the tired way you look at things
as if they don’t really matter
& I can see the hatred for the way things are
& how you can’t stand another day of this
but how you keep on going
even though you are dulled by desperation & sadness
you haven’t given up
& I think that’s really brave

Talking Blues

one day a man walked up to me
said would you like a million dollars guaranteed?
all that you have to do
is sell your soul to the liar’s zoo
sure, I’d love to do that
spend the rest of my life cooped up in a cage
always hated seeing the world outside

I went to the place he mentioned just to see
they told me I could be anything I wanted to be
except that I had to join their mob
give them my money if I ever wanted a job
they told me that I could sell my soul & pay exuberant rates
that must mean their products are incredibly interesting
but I decided I’d rather be bored than be robbed

they told me I’d get a piece of paper to touch & feel
in case I wanted some evidence that their lies seemed real
I proved to them that a paper could be shredded, burnt, or lost
but they said that it would be worth it, whatever the cost
I’d definitely like to be chained to you & your friends forever
it would be so fun to pay for your speedboat while I starve
I’d sure like to see what kind of strings hold your thoughts together

they told me when I got out of the chains I could work right away
nine to five & a few dollars a day
& for the rest of my life I’d be paying them back
they told me only then I could be on the right track
yeah, a track filled with liars & people who hold you back
keep you from getting anything going
sure, by following the path you set up, I’m going to be so free

Talking to the People

the long faced man is standing confused at the doorstep of doom
as he looked behind him only to see he really wasn’t there
he never could grasp the idea that James himself couldn’t have dared it more
& silken strands of dreams strung from trees enlighten his command

Marilyn, she stands twirling her hair, sparkling eyes in bloom
she says he was never here much so no one would ever compare
but the words said upon leaving left no room in her heart to account for
the message behind them that he’d come back, her trust would not remand

down at the work shop Francis stands around, the wooden shop like a tomb
things could have been different if he’d have tried, but he landed in repair
he looks down at his latest work & shakes his head in remorse
the talents he had wasted, strewn upon dreams of others he held in fisted hand

you never know how much there is to learn just by looking around
the only way you’ll understand anything is by listening & talking to the people
Heather, her silk dress in all its new-sewn glory, lays her eyes on the groom
& amongst all the chaos, she was the catalyst behind it all

Down Towards Diamond Street

the frantic cowboys riding down the diamond street
standing near the edge of the major’s fleet
I saw someone standing there in the moon veiled heat
it was the old man who sweeps up in his old shop
which nobody visits, no one who passes ever stops
he yells to his hoodlum friend “go call up the cops!
I see an honest man passing by.”

down on old Diamond Street where the fiddlers play
melancholy tunes, forgetting why
as people stop & listen & forget to pay
try as you may but no one will ever listen

the defendant runs out of the thrift store
saying “he who gives everything must give a little more”
the owner cries “you’ve cut truth to the core”
as he empties his pockets & runs from the window
he says “life isn’t as easy as living, you know”
& his wife yells back at him “what you reap, you never did sow”
no one there ever tries to help or notify

down on old Diamond Street where the fiddlers play
melancholy tunes, forgetting why
as people stop & listen & forget to pay
try as you may but no one will ever listen

down on old Diamond Street I saw the new home
that one with a blue roof all covered in silver stones
It reminds me of someone I once thought I’d known
but the lady with the green dress suddenly saunters out
“I want to be free!” she curses & she shouts
the mail carrier asks “what’s this trouble all about?”
as the lady stands there & the truth she attempts to defy

down on old Diamond Street where the fiddlers play
melancholy tunes, forgetting why
as people stop & listen & forget to pay
try as you may but no one will ever listen

the moon & the sun have now traded places in the night
cutting out the cover & returning to their flight
the robber who redeems himself from darkness & from light
sees the boy about go out & rob the lonesome man
he says “stop right there, son, & see where you stand
right at the edge between right & wrong’s beckoning hands
remember if you go, life will never stop passing you by

down on old Diamond Street where the fiddlers play
melancholy tunes, forgetting why
as people stop & listen & forget to pay
try as you may but no one will ever listen

as a man sits in the shadows drowning in his sorrow
he says, “what is the promise in that place called tomorrow?
where did I go, whose attitude have I borrowed?”
& he turns around to face the wall
standing there he hears a voice so small
saying “excuse me sir, but I heard your desperate cries
& it seems like you’re even forgotten how to even try”

It Shouldn’t Be That Way

I can never seem to understand
when they begin to talk about losing
the love they thought they had
because it isn’t like that for me

I can never seem to offer a word of advice
when the ask me what they should do to get love that will suffice
I’ve never known anything
like that

I can never seem to offer a hand
when they start to tell me things
they can never understand
it’s never been like that
for me

I can never seem to hide from their laughter
as they admit that they never really knew what they were after
& instead wandered in darkness
it doesn’t have to be that way

it shouldn’t be that way
that we should have to hide & pretend that everything’s okay
you thought you were in love

I always forget what to say
when someone asks me why everything has to be this way
& that I have to follow your path

I never can see how they look down
when everything they say only brings them down
I don’t ever want to be that way

I can’t understand their mutual misunderstandings
& how their love has never been withstanding
I’ll never be like them

they talk & try to bring me down
they convince me this will never stay around
they tell me that I’m just dreaming
but I am wide awake

On the Rocks

I heard the leaves rustling on the sidewalk as I jumped into the air / you were standing out front of the garden & I said “what are you doing there?” / you claimed that you were just passing through / but I knew it was something deeper / when I noticed you had brought your suitcase / & forgotten your bottle of words / I thought you would never return for me / but you did

the anger from the last time subsided as I stared / something about you made me change my mind / & imagine how differently we might have fared / you offered me a smile / which I returned with a questioning gaze / were you, was this all for real? / or just another fake?

but as I stood beside you on the rocks, there wasn’t anything to say / other than the fact that destiny had brought us together after pulling us away

you were being so kind but were you being too nice / I couldn’t understand why you came back / after you had declared our love was gone / & I was left exposed on the rack / maybe somewhere deep within there was some love worth saving / but how would I know the difference? / between what I thought & what was true? / sometimes the line blurred / when I thought about loving you

but then I saw you staring off into the distance / & I realized that while I didn’t love you anymore / I didn’t want to be with you any longer, I’d said goodbye to you before & I wanted to keep things that way / but I forgive you / I forgive you for what you did / but I do not love you any longer / so I told you this & you turned with a sigh & asked me why / but I had moved on / I had moved on

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