Oh, The Places You Went

oldYou must be so tired!
That day was your day.
You went to Great Places!
You went off and away!

You had brains in your head.
You had feet in your shoes.
And you steered yourself
In directions you’d choose.
You went on your own. And you knew what you knew.
And you were the one who would pick what to do.

You walked up and down streets. Looked them over with care.
Some you saw and thought, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you were too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

Maybe you should have,
you sometimes think now.
Maybe you should have, just once,
If just to learn how.

Sometimes you didn’t find any
you wished to go down.
Sometimes you just gave up,
rode straight out of town.

It’s opener there,
in the wide open air,
you said to yourself.
It wasn’t exactly a lie.
You’d just rather not stay,
You’d just rather not try.

Out there things could happen
and frequently do
to lucky people — other people –
but never to you.

And then things started to happen,
To others — not you –
You followed along.
“I’ll start happening too.”

Oh,
the places you went.

“Now I’m on my way up!
Now I’m seeing great sights!”
You whispered alone
looking up at the heights.

But then you fell behind
(they ran with such speed)
No one waited for you
They all took the lead.
Wherever they flew, you couldn’t quite see
They rushed out of sight
So you stopped by a tree.

“They’ll be back,” you said, quite sure, as sure as can be.
“This isn’t the last that they’ve seen of me.”

But they didn’t come back — not for you, not at all
They didn’t see you or answer your call.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
They happened to you.

You limbs got hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang just flew on.
You were left for the Lurch.

And the Lurch came right for you
He crawled and he crept.
And you ran and you ran
And you hid, and you wept.

The horrors fell on you!
They fell on your skin!
They pried open your eyelids
and let themselves in!

You fled to a place where the streets were not marked.
Some windows were lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could lose both your voice and your skin!
You daren’t stay out — you daren’t stay in –
Ah, the things that you lost there, still trying to win.

Those things are still scuttling from corner to street
You’d not recognize you, if you happened to meet.
It would dance broken-jointedly up from behind.
You’d flinch in fear — I’m afraid you would find
The version of you that had fractured its mind.

You’d get so confused
that you’d start in to race
down long sneering roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles ‘cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place.

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their nightmares to go.
Everyone was just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!
You said that, and thought that, and knew it was true
But you stayed, and you stayed, just the waiters and you.
You waited ’til waiting was all you could do.

Somehow you never escaped
all that waiting and staying.
You heard of bright places
where Boom Bands were playing.
But you never went. Why, you can’t say.
“I’ll go there tomorrow. I’ll go there someday.”
But you waited, and waited, and someday didn’t come
Now the waiting is over; the waiting is done.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more I’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because I’m that kind of a guy!
Then you wake up, and know that that dream was a lie.

Oh, the places you went! There was fun to be done!
There were points to be scored. There were games to be won.
And you did some of them — a few, it’s true
Not as many as others, but the best you could do.
The best? voices ask, and you shake them aside
The best, you insist, as a matter of pride.

You won all the games that you played against you.
Games you cheated, or snuck out of, or forfeited, too.
You won every game that you ever withdrew.
If you never quite finish, you never quite lose.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone is now something
you’ll be quite a lot.

Everyone else has places to go.
They can’t stop and listen
to things that went wrong,
They’ll stop for a minute, and nod, and cluck, and say “Hm,” and “So sorry,”
But they won’t stay for long.
No one ever stays long.
You had your chance to go Places.
It’s not their fault you didn’t.

Once you became alone, you flinched at all sights
You were scared of the hollows and scared of the heights
Scared of the road and scared to go on
Scared to bed down and scared of the dawn.
Scared of the others who pass you along.
Scared of yourself, and scared of the strong.
Scared of most everything you see pressing on.

You went on so long
in rains thick and foul.
You went on for days
Where your enemies prowled.
You went on through swamps
full of shrieks and of howls.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
And your arms, they grew sore
and your mind sprung a leak.

On and on you hiked,
And it’s true you hiked far
Til you laid down to rest
Til you came to a bar.
Giving up felt so light
You barely noticed it start
It felt easy and right
To quiet your spirits and quiet your heart.

You got mixed up, of course
as you already know.
You got mixed up
with so many strange birds — where’d they go?
They left you in silence, like all of the rest
They left you in darkness with hate in their breast.

It’s too late to change course,
Too late to start now.
You wouldn’t know where –
You wouldn’t know how.
You went Places,
That must be enough.
That must be enough, and now you must rest.
You tried, just a little bit less than your best.
That part’s not your fault, you keep telling the air.
Maybe the next will do better out there.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

You didn’t move mountains.

So…
You must be that 1 and 1/4 percent.
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You missed the Great Places.
Today’s not your day!
Your mountain has moved on.
It’s shut tight the way.

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