National Poetry Month: A poem a day keeps the bugaboos away


A poem a day? I'm in. One, each day, from someone else. I'll write in response.   


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

― Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Killing Us With Kindness

Sometimes, contained within a poem
is enough truth to change a universe
enough courage to win wars
words that murder us awake
we never Really want to know sorrow as the other deepest thing
but over and over and over again the sorrows come
we lose everything and are dead by the side of the road
embrace our white ponchos
inevitable, necessary, beautiful
kindness kills the old and certain you
one day you get it and begin again
like the first day of a new month
like a holy fool in April
like the first word of a new poem.