words among friends


    I was reading this morning in a small volume of poetry I have had for years called Poems to Live By: In Uncertain Times and found some words worth sharing today.

    First, from Robert Bly:

    Things to Think

    Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
    If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
    Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
    Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

    Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
    Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
    Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
    A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

    When someone knocks on the door,
    Think that he’s about
    To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
    Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time,
    Or that it’s been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

    And this one by W. H. Auden:

    Leap Before You Look

    The sense of danger must not disappear:
    The way is certainly both short and steep,
    However gradual it looks from here;
    Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

    Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
    And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
    It is not the convention but the fear
    That has a tendency to disappear.

    The worried efforts of the busy heap,
    The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
    Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
    Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

    The clothes that are considered right to wear
    Will not be either sensible or cheap,
    So long as we consent to live like sheep
    And never mention those who disappear.

    Much can be said for social savoir-faire,
    But to rejoice when no one else is there
    Is even harder than it is to weep;
    No one is watching, but you have to leap.

    A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
    Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
    Although I love you, you will have to leap;
    Our dream of safety has to disappear.

    And, lastly, from Naomi Shihab Nye:

    So Much Happiness

    It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
    With sadness there is something to rub against,
    a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
    When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
    something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

    But happiness floats.
    It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
    It doesn’t need anything.
    Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
    and disappears when it wants to.
    You are happy either way.
    Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
    and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
    cannot make you unhappy.
    Everything has a life of its own,
    it too could wake up filled with possibilities
    of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
    and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
    the soiled linens and scratched records…..

    Since there is no place large enough
    to contain so much happiness,
    you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
    into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
    You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
    for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
    and in that way, be known.



    1. I’m printing these out for my…mirror? The wall that I stare at when I wash the dishes? The front (or better yet, inside door) of my refrigerator? Or to cover my computer screen, to make me think before I ooze into the next online distraction.

      Lovely poems, and thank you for posting them.

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