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POETRY


TITLE: The Right-side-up Kingdom (7-13-14)
By Jacob Gibson
07/13/14
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This is, without question, one of my most ambitious projects and the longest poem I've done. It originally began as a story that only partially rhymed, but I wasn't satisfied with it. So I decided to pull a Dr. Seuss and try to write a whole story that rhymed. (Other differences are that I changed the old man to a boy) Let me know if you can think of better rhymes and if I need more or less words. Thanks!
Listen, my friend, and I’ll tell you a tale
of a secret world far way.
A world that looks and feels just like ours
where people like us work and play.

The grass is still green, the sky is still blue,
there’s many a country and town
The only thing that would have to set it apart
is that half of it floats upside-down

Yes, you heard right, I didn’t misspeak
And I would not tell a lie
Not too far from one piece of land
Another hangs over in the sky

If that wasn’t enough, and I’m sure that it is
Then you will find this much harder to grasp
There are people who live on both of the lands
Those inverted have no need to clasp

The upside-down people in their upside-down land
Walk like us with no fear that they’ll fall
It’s as though gravity simply has no affect
No matter if short or if tall

How, you ask, can this all be so?
Well I wish I could tell you just how.
But I don’t know the answer so please don’t interrupt,
and please don’t ask me right now.

The people below on the right-side-up land
Would laugh at their friends overheard
How silly they looked! How peculiar, how odd!
Why would they choose to live there instead?

But the truth of the matter for this right-side-up land
The inhabitants all had to confess
Was that it was lumpy, it was bad, it was bumpy
unstable and simply a mess

The air smelled unpleasant and was often foggy
The water was quite far from clean
The animals seemed rather unhappy here too
So few of the trees could stay green

But for these poor people they just shrugged and said
That’s life, it just can’t be changed
We’d rather be here where we’re all right-side-up
Than up there where we’d look very strange

One day a young boy with a curious mind
Asked his mother who was making bread,
“May I go up there, so high in the air
And see what it’s like there instead?

“No, son,” she replied, for the 100th time
“You must stay down here with me.
If you go up there you’ll become strange like them
You’d surely regret it, you see.”

“But what if I stayed for just a short while?
Then I’d come right back down here with you.
What if it’s fun and the people are nice?”
The boy didn’t know what to do

“I’m afraid it’s not wise,” his mother replied
“When you’re older you will understand.
But even if I could somehow take you up there
I don’t know the way to that land.”

The boy asked his father but got the same answer
His siblings just laughed in his face
His friends had no interest in his weird obsession
But his curiosity they could not erase

The next week as the lad walked home from school
He saw children above him at play
They skipped a jump rope and went up a slide
It sure looked like fun on this day

“Hello there!” he said as he lifted his head
“Afternoon. How do you do?
“May I ask you a question if you have the time?
I must know if something is true.

“Is it really quite strange up there where you live?
Do you feel safe while you hang like a bat?
Why do you stay there when you could be down here?
And how could one get there at that?”

A young girl looked down and smiled a big smile.
“Hello! Nice to meet you, my friend.
I’ll answer your questions, no trouble at all
Just listen, a hand I will lend

“This place may seem strange but you must understand
We all used to live up there too
But we found a quick way to get to this place
That’s better than we ever knew.

We don’t feel in peril though it may look quite feral
We’re happy with nary a frown
And if you’ll believe it I’ll tell you a secret
Your world is the one upside-down”

The boy laughed and laughed though he tried to restrain
They had all heard this story before
Why did they repeat it when the truth was so clear?
When would they recite it no more?

But the girl was polite and ignored his bad manners
“You said you would like information.
Please listen to me and take this seriously
What I say will provide motivation.”

At the center of your land where the ground is most level
You’ll find something waits to be found
It was built long ago by a very kind man
That reaches from here to your ground.”

“What is it?” he asked, his interest renewed
“Can you show me the way to get there?”
“Of course!” she replied, and took off ahead
The wind blowing her blonde curly hair

The boy followed close to the upside-down girl
His excitement now reaching its peek
They ran for what seemed like a very short distance
‘til they came to the place which she seeked

The boy stared at wonder at the invention before him
So simple and yet it was not
It was impossible-looking, and yet here it stood
Whose hands had this great device wrought?

An old wooden bridge like any you’d see
Rugged but sturdy and strong
Made from the best lumber in the land
Narrow but not very long

It began at his feet, went straight for a way
Then up it curved gently and sure
It continued its path ‘til it reached ground above
No supports needed to keep it secure

Before he could ask how he’d possibly cross
A man appeared at the other end
He walked across with no trouble at all
No slipping as he traversed the bend

The man, dressed so regal in royal attire
Came near him with kind outstretched hand
Though he looked like any man you would meet
There was something about him quite grand

“Hello my young friend! I’m so glad that you came.
I’ve waited so long for this day.
From this moment forward your life could soon change
If you’ll follow me back up this way.”

“Who are you?” he asked, with no hint of fear
Though this man to him was a stranger
He felt safer around him than any he knew
There was truly no sense of danger.

The man gave a warm, benevolent smile
Like a grandfather at his grandson
He looked so pleased to answer this question
And his happiness looked quite next to none

“I’m the son of the king who rules this great land.
The prince and a builder as well.
He sent me up here to reunite with you all
To be with us here where we dwell.

I built this old bridge so long, long ago
It cost me everything that I had
That’s why, though I’m royal, I used to be poor
And in old dirty rags I was clad.

But let us now talk of the reason you’re here
To cross over is why you have come
If you’ll just take my hand and walk by my side
You can stay with us there where we’re from.

The bridge, though imposing, will not let you fall
It has yet for anyone to fail
It holds for all sizes and ages, big and small
Stands strong through the rain and through gale.”

The boy pondered this offer and looked at the girl
She looked happily at him and the prince
It was clear that she loved him and trusted him much
His words did greatly to convince

But what of his parents? What would they say?
Would they approve of this new visitation?
Perhaps he should go and ask them about it
He would go now with no hesitation

“I thank you, kind sir, for explaining to me
This bridge and your land with the King
But I feel I should go and return to my home
For my family I do want to bring.”

The prince, no bit angered, didn’t argue with him
He nodded his pure white-haired head
“Go tell them all now the things you have seen.
I’ll be here, don’t have any dread.”

The boy turned and ran all the way to his home
Where his mother stood waiting outside
“Where have you been, you naughty young pup?
You’re late. Your time you did bide.

Your father went out to go looking for you.
Now tell me… where did you go?
If your story sounds true and your reason is well
A spanking I will not bestow

The boy looked down with shame in his eyes
“I’m sorry I have come home so late.
But I found something new that you’ll want to see too
You both must come soon. Do not wait.”

“What is it?” she asked with a hint of intrigue
But skeptical still nonetheless.
“I’d rather I know than go on a trek
Just tell me, do not make me guess.”

“You wouldn’t believe it,” he said with a hurry
“Please come and just see it with me.
When you’re there you’ll be glad that you trusted my word
I’m quite sure that you will soon agree

His mother resigned when she saw his expression
So there they did wait for his dad
He returned in an hour not looking too pleased
In fact he looked rather mad

But the boy just as eager told him to come
And eventually he gave in too
So the three of followed to the place he had found
His parents not having a clue

Soon they had arrived to the strange curving bridge
His parents stared upwards in shock
How had they not seen this great structure before?
Why of it had nobody talked?

Just as he had promised there stood the prince
Still waiting there so patiently
When he saw them all come he quickly drew near
And told them, “Be calm, do not flee!”

The prince told them just what he’d told to the boy
They listened though in disbelief
When the man had finished his incredible tale
The father looked at him like a thief

“Excuse me, good prince, if you really are one,
How can I know this is true?
How can we trust you? I’m having some doubts.
What kinds? Well, I’ll tell them to you.

We too have a king that rules in our land
He’s popular, wise, and great fun
I’ve heard of the king in your upside-down world
His justice is harsh, you should shun

And you claim that your bridge is the only way there.
Oh really. Well how is that so?
Our king has made ladders and stairs quite aplenty
To your very own world do they go.”

The man called a Prince for the first time did frown
He shook his head and gave a quick sigh
“The truth, if you’ll listen, is rarely that easy.
But it’s better than any old lie.

“My father is strict but he is never mean
His judgments are fair and quite good.
His standards, so high, let us live there in peace
The king always does what he should.

“The man you call king is no king at all
But simply a joker and a fraud
He may seem like fun but his motives are dark
He seeks your enslavement and laud.

And yes, I’m aware of his ladders and stairs
So flashy and convenient and broad
But they lead everywhere except to my land
Those who’ve tried can see how they’re flawed.

Now we could stand here and argue all day
Until you left me in ire and disgust
But why not just try it and see for yourself
Please lend me an inch of your trust.”

“But what of your people?” the mother spoke up
“They act so peculiar, so strange.
I don’t want to be there and look weird like them.
We’re fine here, don’t ask us to change.”

“Though odd they may seem,” the prince reassured
“They’re happier than you’d ever be.
You can’t see that you’re prisoners trapped in a large cage
My goal is to set you all free.

Please give me a chance and take now my hand
Your time is fast running out
One day your whole land will fly into the void
And those still there will weep and will shout.”

The boy stepped forwards but his father restrained
“I’ll see for myself, just stay here.
No reason for you to get hurt on that thing.
Go stand by your mother, stay near.”

He took the prince’s hand and onwards they walked
To the structure that spanned the short breach
They walked side-by-side going slowly with caution
Until the foot of the bridge they did reach

Holding tight to the rail and to the man’s hand
The father took each step with care
They came to the incline and began the ascent
How long until they would be there?

But the two men marched up with no trouble at all
As though walking across a flat plain
In just a short time they reached the other side
With no signs of trouble or pain

When the father stepped off he gawked at the view
His mouth open, his eyes moist with tears
He fell to his knees and gave out a cry
“Why did I wait so long to come here?

“The Prince wasn’t lying! This place is much better.
It all feels so new and so clean
I already feel like I’m living anew
This is beyond what I’ve ever seen.

My son and my wife! You must come here too!
Don’t stay up there for one more minute.
Come walk with the Prince and see what I see
You’ll understand once you are in it.”

The prince, with a grin, gave the father a hug
Then returned back to fetch the boy’s mother
With some hesitation she followed him too
And her joy was quite like no other

Now, more than ready, the boy finally went
And walked up it more quickly than they
His excitement was building as he reached the end
Oh wow what a glorious day

At the opposite end he leapt up with joy
It was all he had hoped for and more
He felt so much freedom, so much sweet relief
Like a ship finally come home to shore

He breathed in the air, so fresh and so sweet
The ground, actually smooth and stable
The sky was so clear he could see far and near
Could he live here? He felt he was able.

The girl he had met just an hour ago
Soon met him with another boy
They circled around him and welcomed them there
Overflowing with uncontained joy

So how does our story come to an end?
Well, you’ll be quite happy to know
That the whole family moved there with no second thought
And left behind their existence of woe

They moved in a new house with a much better view
Where flowers bloom and the birds sing
They were happy knowing that one day ahead
They’d all get to meet the good king

Now, whenever the boy is at out for a walk
And someone asks why he’s up there
He’ll lead them straight out to the prince and his bridge
And his story he will gladly share

Soon they’ll come with him too and rejoice just the same
They’ll put on clean clothes and a crown
Forever they’ll sing and dance with cease
In the kingdom that’s not upside-down

And now, my friend, I’ll tell you a radical truth
This story is not fiction but true
Our world is not what we’d want it to be,
It’s upside-down and we all are too

Our bad deeds separate us from our loving God
The King’s holiness can’t be diminished
No good deeds or religion can make up that fact
Left to ourselves we are finished

But the son of God came to turn us around
And clean off our stains and our mud
He did this by giving his life on the cross
Where he shed every drop of his blood

He rose back to life just a few days later
And led the way across the wide ridge
Now all who believe can come with us now
By crossing His marvelous bridge

So will you come now with me and meet with Him too?
He’s waiting to fill your dry cup
Then we’ll sing and we’ll dance for now and forever
In the kingdom that stands right-side-up

---
(The ideas for this story came from the Newsboy’s book “Shine” which mentions Donald B. Kraybill’s book “The Upside-down Kingdom” and the bridge from Greg Stier’s book “Dare 2 Share.” If I accidentally copied someone, it was unintentional.)
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