BooksAugust 22, 2017

The Tuesday Poem: ‘Ascend’ by Bart English


Every day this week the Spinoff Review of Books is publishing a new poem in the build-up to the Phantom Billstickers national poetry day on Friday. Today: ‘Ascend’ by Bart English



Inspired by Maya Angelou’s “A caged bird”


I look

Up at the sky

And wish that I could fly,

To grow wings on these feeble limbs

But I –


– I hear

As the wind calls,

Tempting me to follow,

Chase her across the infinite

Blue sky.


I trace


Paths of winged distant specks

But I know they will never climb

Like me.


This cage

That grounds me still

Is my springboard into

The sky that lies just beyond my



I sigh

For those who fly,

They will never truly

Know what it is to transcend and

Seek heights



Where the eye sees

And traverse that hallowed

Space, where even birds dare not try

To go.


So laugh

Your brittle cries,

Eagle, wren, bluebird and crow

But you will never soar past me

Caged bird.

From A Conversation Between Two Tui by Bart English (CopyPress, $30)

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