Ten Thousand Hearts

There was once a boy

Living alone in a cottage;

Lit by candles and oil lamps

In mind a dream and a plan.

There was once a boy,

A lock and key in hand;

He left his home one day,

Went looking for adventure.

There was once a boy

A backpack on his shoulder,

A map in his hand

All roads were deserted.

There was once a boy,

Wandering through ages

He went back to moments that

He couldn’t help but regret.

There was once a boy

He was lonely and had no home

There was once a boy

He had no one to call.

There was once a boy

Who tore his heart from his chest

He didn’t need it when

The troubles of night came.

There was once a boy

He wasn’t scared of monsters;

He fought through the night

And walked after dusk.

There was once a boy

He walked after midnight;

He walked after dawn

He walked when the clock chimed twelve.

There was once a boy

Walking and collecting papers;

Old and torn and tarnished 

Telling fake legends.

There was once a boy

He was running for adventure

He was looking for a place

Where he could stop running someday. 

There was once a boy

He was betrayed but he didn’t care

He wasn’t scared of the dark;

He wasn’t scared of anything.

There was once a boy

Who had heard of this legend

Of a man who crossed the sky

Collecting memories.

There was once a boy

Who went looking for a remedy;

For his heart was broken,

He’d stashed it in a backpack.

There was once a boy

Who kept walking and walking

And the sunset didn’t kneel 

Before his yellow eyes.

Foremost and at last

There was a boy who found someone,

But he had lost his map

Along the crooked path.

There was once a boy

He was angry and sad

He didn’t care for emotions

He tore out his heart.

But it was already torn

So he tore it into pieces

He went looking for trouble

He was looking for revenge.

There was once a boy

Who didn’t listen to the wind;

He plummeted into storm

He cut off his wings.

There was once a boy

In his backpack he had some feathers

Though light as it was,

He took after a legend.

There was once a boy 

Who never glanced at the clock

He ran after hearts

He tore them out of hope.

There was once a boy

A lonely boy that he was;

He tried to come back home

To an empty cottage.

He didn’t look at the time

But he saw it was lost

He understood what he’s done

He could believe the cost.

There was once a boy,

He didn’t care anymore

He was dragging his legs

He tore out his veins.

There was once a boy

Who went looking for adventure

Adventure was lost on him

As was the man in the sky.

There was once a boy

Who tried to rob a grave;

He fell into dust

He cut off his hands.

There was once a boy

His backpack was getting dirty

He was tired of running

He was looking for rest.

There was once a boy

Who wasn’t scared of the dark;

He’d left all the candles in a cottage

That didn’t need to exist anymore.

There was once a boy

Who’d swore himself a promise

He was never to dread 

The falling of dark.

There was once a boy

With a dream and a plan

He stashed them in his backpack

He had lost his path.

There was once a boy

Who couldn’t carry the bag that he had;

A thousand hearts he’d stashed there

Of cowards that stood back.

He was tired and lonely

He had no place to go

So he went to everywhere and nowhere

He’d forgotten of words.

There was once a boy

He broke all of his watches

He was looking for solace

He was crying for help.

A promise had once pulsed through his veins

He had no blood to dry away;

Someone shoved his head in a fountain

He was soaking cold and wet.

There was once a boy

He sat down at the side of the road

He looked up at the stars

Saw a shadow of a ghost.

He looked down at the ground

Saw the blossom of betrayal,

He closed his eyes at last

He saw the beating of his heart.

He shook away the feelings

They had no right to knock

He didn’t even have a heart anymore.

There was once a boy

Ten thousand hearts in his bag

And a pair of wings,

And a set of veins,

And two broken hands.

There was once a boy

He had lost his dream and his plan

He held pride in the fact

That he didn’t fear the dark.

The darkness feared him

The monsters stepped away

He held no home in his eyes

They were closed off to pain.

He went looking for danger

He went looking for redemption

He found the way of vengeance

He tore out people’s hearts.

But he couldn’t find him

The one who broke his heart

He couldn’t find him

The boy who feared the dark;

He couldn’t find him

The boy who wearied danger

He couldn’t find him

The boy that was a legend.

There was once a boy

He’d had but one friend

He didn’t have any friends anymore.

*

There was once a boy

Who kneeled before the sun

The backpack slipped from his shoulder

He’d lost all ten thousand hearts.

There was once a boy

Who had a promise in his heart

He had a dream and a plan

He used to live in a cottage.

There was once a boy

Who was lonely when the darkness came;

He had but one memory

That began to fade away.

Above him stood a man

A legend to all ears;

He pitied the boy

Who’d slaughtered the years.

And as the man looked at his watch

He counted down to zero

Then the time came to a stop

And the boy had looked away.

And then finally

That man taught him of pardon

But pardon was walking

Down another way.

There was once a boy;

Who couldn’t understand

Until finally he realized

Why he was afraid.

He had no shame to bear

It was all stashed in his backpack;

He was left to weep for his crimes

That he should’ve foretold.

There was once a boy

Who learned how to fear

The darkness that was coming

The clock had no tears.

Ten Thousand Hearts © Michal Rotko

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