I Got Up

By DC

If you see a man down, do you assume that he fell?
If the burning in his eyes is there, which story does it tell?
If he is on his knees, is this a sign of submission?
Or was he once on his back, and rose to this position?

If you see him dropping his head, staring at the ground
Did he quit? Or is he looking for a new way to get around?
If you see that he is in tears, and he is letting them run
Do you assume that he lost, or that he has won?

Is he giving up or getting up?
Is he content with the notion of slumber
With no real inclination of waking up?
Could you give him a sec, could you wait?
To watch him fall, and then rise to be great?

For his struggle, though long and imperfect
Built him up from nothing
So it was worth it
From laying to sitting, from sitting to kneeling
To now almost standing – his resolve, so willing!

To be standing on his own, is his burning desire
It’s what drives him, like passion filled fires
To put his head up high, and his chest popped out
And not many can say, they know what “getting up” is about

Comments

  1. Reid Baron says:

    A great triumph of a poem. I’m glad you made this happen for yourself.

  2. Cassandra says:

    Dear DC,
    I really love the rhythm in this poem. It has such a strong, lyrical beat which really compliments the triumphant narrative.

  3. Wow! This is such a great poem. I have read it twice already today, and I intend to save it. I hope you’ll keep on writing.

  4. “If you see a man down, do you assume that he fell?….If he is on his knees, is this a sign of submission? Or was he once on his back, and rose to this position?”

    This is a provocative start to a really interesting (and excellent) poem. Throughout the poem a picture is created in the readers mind (a man on the ground, a man on his knees, a man with tears in his eyes) and then the interpretation of the picture is immediately challenged.

    I listened to a lecture online recently by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story.” She talks about how when we create a narrative that reduces a person to just one thing (a poor person, an immigrant, etc.) we completely lose your ability to truly see them in their complexity as a human being, and we are almost certain to misunderstand who they are, or what we are seeing.

    This poem made me think of her lecture because yes– as I read this poem I ignored the burning in the man’s eyes and saw (in my imagination) that the man in this poem was on the ground. I assumed that he had fallen, rather than was rising up. At first glance, I assumed tears were defeat, rather than a reaction to victory, and so on.

    On of the signs of a great poem is that it allows us to look at something in a new way. It startles us into seeing something we had reduced to a single story with new– and open– eyes.

    “If you see him dropping his head, staring at the ground
    Did he quit? Or is he looking for a new way to get around?”

  5. DC,

    Thank you for sharing this poem. It reminded me of the Japanese proverb “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” The questions you posed were really effective in getting me to question the assumptions I make about people. Thanks for reminding me that strength is often born from vulnerability.

    Please keep writing.

    Your fan,

    Rachael

  6. Eric Coffin-Gould says:

    This is a really arresting image, well done. First two stanzas are my favorite – clear, powerful, get the point across.

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