A Thousand Cranes, Volume 9 // Sample Chapter

A Thousand Cranes, Volume 9 by Ashlee Craft

A Beginning

do you know what it’s like to finally feel like you belong
after drifting emptily onwards in empty forests,
empty cold gray skies of winter?
the lone crane flying, snowflakes fluttering amongst the beating of her wings
I’ve been out in the cold for so long

… but spring has finally come

do you know what it’s like to think that those around you care
that they think of you as a friend & have respect for you
only to later learn it was all a show, all a sham to try & make you join their cause?
the lone person wandering, invisible, & alone – no one sees her, no one hears
I’ve been walking alone for too long

… but now I’ve found a family

do you know what it’s like to look back upon a year ago
when the promise was made, even though I felt it was impossible
& to be able to look back on that now
& honestly say out loud to myself that I made it, I did it?
I’ve been trying to hard to get through this in one piece

… & I finally am starting to be okay


quiet slamming sound / boards creaking
below stammering feet & hammering hands
beating like drums into woodwork
Morse code soliloquies; I try & speak in terms of
understated understanding / it’s all a mess
the glow of the sun has subtly faded
leaving me in the darkness to look at
unknown stars from unknown times
& the sources of the stardust we came from
I am a speck of dust on the surface of the sky
& yet I am the universe
the entire universe, encompassed in my hands
I am the stars & suns & planets & souls
I am the stardust I am made from
I own it
in the twinkling of an eye I touch upon stars
never seen by human eyes before
all the leaves on every tree on earth turn towards me
in the faltering breeze
all the birds sing their songs for the pleasure of my ears listening
& yet I am completely average, as normal as anyone else
& yet I am the rarest, strangest & most beautiful unique thing in existence

it is a rather strange place to hold
& existence is a rather funny thing
but I am utterly in love with it

Flying Free

I took a breath of fresh air
spread my wings
& bravely leapt towards the final fraying threads
of what I knew deserved to be mine

there was a brief moment of falling –
wind rushed past me
I questioned deeply whether I’d made the right choice or not,
whether at the last second when I needed it most –
if then my strength would fail me
& if I would come crashing down
wishing I’d never set out in the first place
too afraid, too bruised to try again

… but then the falling was over
& the wind caught my wings, drawing me upwards taking my hands & showing me
towards the bright sunny sky
no longer was I bound to the person I’d once been
no longer was I bound to the false belief
that I would never be free of my chains


I can’t say how I feel about you
you’re in my thoughts, but only some of the time
you’re in my heart, but not always in the same way

sometimes I just want to love you
sometimes I want nothing more than to gather you into my arms
& hold you close
I can see you snuggled next to me in bed at night
& I feel the phantom thrill of what it would be like to see you every day
I imagine places we might go together – the beach, canoeing on the bayou,
sitting on my back porch on a warm summer night
holding hands as we walk along the boardwalk
or just talking & laughing together

I think about how lovely it would be to know you like that

but then, the rest of the time, the thought of being so close
it scares me, repels me
& even if I tell myself that I should want to feel like that about you,
I don’t
it feels like something I don’t need, don’t want
I wonder if I require that same connection as those around me
& when I try to look at you in this way
I feel nothing

I know I’d like to be close to you
but I’m not sure in what way

A Promise Half Fulfilled

you spoke to me, eyes glaring & glinting off frozen broken rays of sunlight / underneath a rusty nail hanging down from the sky you took my hand & tried to show me the world / I broke into a cavern filled with dust & when the wind blew, all the dust was dispersed, revealing that all along the treasure hidden inside had been invisible & the cavern has been empty / you signed up for going to the place where everyone talks about & goes to & returns from but never can love because they feel too distant there & when I saw you there your eyes were empty / I learned early on that the sole source of the game was to see how many people you could bribe into liking you, how many times you clean up the shit of others & try to please them, & that doing those things is the only way they let you have any oxygen up there / I refused to be your puppet so you took away my oxygen & left me to suffer, but I found my own way out of the trap you’d put me into, telling me that hell was home & that if I only learned & accepted that living means pain & suffering & that every day is supposed to be a drudge you desperately want to escape from, then I could be happy like you are / but I never learned that from you; I planted a tree in the darkest corner & found the way towards the sun by myself


there are two types of learning –
that which involves the acquisition of useless facts
all the things you have to think & believe & be & know
only put there to pull you into their trap
& make you a clone of the puppets they admire
so that you might not think for yourself

& the second type
learned in the middle of living
that which is important to you & makes you happy when you know it
things which allow you to be a better, stronger, more empowered happier person
that which makes your life better –
that, my friend, is true education

Why Don’t You Hear Me Anymore?

I’m screaming & clawing at the walls
screaming how desperately I need this
how I cannot do this without you
& I keep on telling you how much you mean to me
how much it will hurt me inside if you abandon me
& had this been before you would have rushed to my side
as soon as the first teardrop fell
& you would have told me that it would all be okay
but now you sit there & say nothing
as if I am invisible to you
& it hurts

… why don’t you hear me anymore?


streets are empty in the night I run down them trying to write quick poetry & do velocity sketches of all that which I see but sometimes I can’t keep up with the flow of ideas & yet other times I am falling just trying to get a grip on myself before I fall too far / but why do I insist – & do I really insist at all? – upon having the same style as those who I’ve seen before?

I Trusted You

I trusted you, you bastard
I told you who I was
I told you all about my past & my present & my future
I opened up some of my deepest feelings to you
& handed them over with the belief that you would hold them
equally as close
that you held me
equally as close as I held you

& I told you we would be friends forever
did that mean anything to you?
did it mean anything to you when I was there
to help you up when you fell, even when everyone else had abandoned you?
or the way I actually cared about you
a hell of a lot more than these other transient people in your life
whom you have more respect for than you do for me?
even though you pay them to like you?

I gave you my heart because I thought you deserved it
I made the mistake in believing you could respect me
I made the mistake of pledging you my friendship & loyalty & using such words to describe you
I wasted oxygen telling others how wonderful you are
now I use the same oxygen recycled to speak these words to you

for now I know
the only thing that matters to you
is what you can take away from everything you touch

Thirteen Word Story

you broke me from the inside out
then I realized
I was you

Kindle Edition