And when the streets are soft with confetti,
And cheers run riot through the air,
Remember, remember the place
from where the truly luminous arise.
Not from beneath the glittering chandeliers,
Nor emerging from jade-tiled pools,
Nor rocked in rubied cradles,
Nor rising from feathered beds,
Do grim, hard heros emerge.
Those places boast no forge hot enough
To maintain the internal flame.
They cannot compress folk from blackened, dusty coal
Into coruscating jewels.
Nor are they like the urban abattoirs,
That butcher the strong and the weak,
And leave the lucky to survive.
It is the men who, in burning their bridges,
See better through the night.
It is the women who, in casting off their anchors,
Sail to uncharted shores.
It is the people—broken, bent, and mangled—
Whose pain and suffering and want
Drive them relentlessly
onwards, upwards, onwards, upwards,
Until they reach the stars.
It is the weary, the scarred, the undaunted survivor
Who succeeds—against the common prediction—
Despite the overwhelming odds,
In the face of discrimination,
Pushing back the strong hands of hate.
And when these men and women answer
Their calls to greatness and commence
To building structures that will endure—
The band will stand and the gigues will play,
Trumpets forever after:
A marching tune in days of June
And the blues in the winter bleak.
And when these men and women become
Luminaries like those before,
In the times of cold when
All the coats in Sweden
can’t warm a man,
And in times of fear when
All the prayers to heaven
Can’t conjure manna,
They give of themselves,
Until there is nothing left to give,
But bone and heart and blood.
And when they have given all of themselves
To field and friend and foe
Then they die like all men will
And are buried down below.