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2 poems by Ricky Ray

How to Go On

Sometimes, when defeat

sits in your chest

sinking you past concern,

you have to lie down in a field,

look up at the sky,

and ask the blades of grass, the little Earthlings

who have been there all night,

who have lived there all their lives,

who are the field you are becoming,

to slip their slender green

fingers into your mind,

and show you:

To go on? It’s easy:

you open your mouth,

you take in little sips of light.


Unable to do much of anything,

I ask for help and it doesn’t come.

It comes but I’m too blinded

by self-pity to recognize it:

the will to breathe: a breath the wind

blows into my lungs to keep me going.

It wasn’t that I was dying—

I was—but that the day seemed

hardly worth responding to, a lover

I couldn’t muster the will to meet in bed.

I knew this a deficiency in me,

but that only turned the static up.


Ricky Ray is a disabled poet, critic, essayist and the founding editor of Rascal. His books include Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). Visit and for more.


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