Unsolicited Advice to the Class of 2020

Grip life the way a father holds his son’s
rib bone after a car bomb in a Baghdad market.

Treat it with speechless
respect. Awake each morning in its belly,

licking the mucous from the rubbery
intestine of your own ignorance.

Chase life. As children run after dragonflies.
Unlock the jar and hold it like a prisoner of evolution.

Be joy burning fiercely
in your own solar interior.

Stand tall in the place of something wild and forgotten,
like an ancient Sycamore unearthed by lightning.

Desert your own mind if it begins to flood. Be a heron
fishing, alone beneath the bare abundance of clouds.

Eat your daily bread. Forgive and rise. Go where there is
no religion but God and moon and land and sea and the

gathering of others who are ready for you. Are you ready
for you? Believe in your next breath, anointed by the elements.

George Cassidy Payne is a poet from Rochester, NY. His work has been included in such publications as the Hazmat ReviewMoria Poetry JournalChronogram JournalAmpersand Literary ReviewThe Angle at St. John Fisher College, and 3:16 Journal. George’s blogs, essays and letters have appeared in USA TodayThe Wall Street JournalThe AtlanticHavana TimesSouth China Morning PostThe Buffalo News, and more. 

See all his poems on Tea House here.

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