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James Dean

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“Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.”

I
I watch the pictures silently flicker,
One and then the other and the other,
I see the rugged hair and spangled smile,
The eyes glowing, timelessly, eternal
Solitary and ever alive.

II
I see his profile, his front, his back,
I see him laugh, I see him frown,
Smoking carelessly or shadowed by a hat,
Dust-flanged, leather jacket, plain shirt,
A star, an evening light.

III
I watch them: I don’t see the highway son,
I don’t see the rebel boy of the fast-lane run,
I see the invisible, the hidden heart,
Lost in the swirling depth of his own dark
Shadow, of the unbearable prize.

IV
I see him torn within the wrenching blackness,
The sparrow sharpness heaved inside,
He playfully tickles a cigarette, just lies
Beneath the vast enormity of a western sky
With his legs spread over the steering wheel.

V
He’s singing peacefully, humming down,
Perhaps reciting a few verses, a few lines,
Closing his eyes under the narrow scope
Of an infinite heaven’s sunlit rays,
And he just lightly likes to rest his head.

VI
They tried to shackle you, to control you,
To live through you their lives,
To throw you into the senseless tide
And drown you, fetter all that is unbound,
But they couldn’t bring you down.

VII
Stars countless, lost within themselves,
They revolve and clash and die,
They fly too high and flame their fall,
You knew your heights, how to escape
The scalding fire, but you went too fast.

VIII
And nothing is the same, nothing remains,
Suddenly it all feels empty, bare,
It all feels less joyous, less alive,
As I hear you and see you, and cannot bear
To know, to remember.

IX
So I just…stare, and…just leave myself,
Leave myself to the passing of the light,
To the mourning, the death of a blazing sun,
Of an immense giant, of a man, a simple man
Who lived fast and died young.

X
You lived for quantity, for experience,
You went as fast as you wanted to go,
You sought for what was invisible to the eye,
To be all there is to be in existence,
And in the chaotic wilderness
Of a world ever bounded,
You fought to find that meaning, to find that truth,
To find that beauty
That would knock off all doors, all limits.





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