Posts Tagged ‘peace’




Unable to undo or reverse the destruction,

I focus on the children I’m charged with.

Hey kids, I say, come sit with me.

I cannot hide that I have been weeping.

They have been fighting, all morning,

as children will, calling each other names

such as “stupid” and “jerk.”

They’ve been refusing to share,

asserting how right they are.

It starts here, I say. Peace begins with the way

that we treat our family and friends.

They are embarrassed by my tears.

My daughter sits on my lap, but looks away.

Stop it, Mom, she says. She slouches

and curls her thin back into my belly.

My son says nothing, then belches

to lighten the mood. I am too sincere.

I almost wish to laugh at myself,

to laugh at him, but instead,

I feel the warm weight of new tears

as they gather before they fall.

The boy beside me, their friend,

takes a big breath, then nods.

I know what you mean, he says.

One of them could have the hand

that pulls the trigger, I think.

One of them could feel righteous

enough to drive a truck into a crowd.

One of them might find the words

I cannot find, the ones that could change

someone else’s set mind,

the words that might turn us toward peace.


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One Side




the warrior in me

traded in her weapon for seeds

still a warrior

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Put a broom in my hands.
I, too, want to clear away
the burned out remains
of hate and disparity.
I want to sweep
with the others who sweep
until the straw is worn
to nothing,
then find another broom
and start the work
again until every street
in every town

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One morning
we will wake up
and forget to build
that wall we’ve been building,
the one between us
the one we’ve been building
for years, perhaps
out of some sense
of right and boundary,
perhaps out of habit.

One morning
we will wake up
and let our empty hands
hang empty at our sides.
Perhaps they will rise,
as empty things
sometimes do
when blown
by the wind.
Perhaps they simply
will not remember
how to grasp, how to rage.

One morning
we will wake up
and we will have
misplaced all our theories
about why and how
and who did what
to whom, we will have mislaid
all our timelines
of when and plans of what
and we will not scramble
to write the plans and theories anew.

On that morning,
not much else
will have changed.
Whatever is blooming
will still be in bloom.
Whatever is wilting
will wilt. There will be fields
to plow and trains
to load and children
to feed and work to do.
On that morning,
I hope I see you.

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I’m sorry I didn’t let you
watch a movie when we got home tonight.
And I’m sorry I didn’t let you
have a piece of gum before bed.
And I’m sorry it was too late tonight
for a story. I’m sorry.
Not sorry in a guilty way,
but sorry in that I know
how hard it is to want something
and not get it. I know what it’s like
to convince yourself that your happiness
depends on that thing, that whatever thing
that you don’t have.
All those tears. I have cried them, too.
It did not matter that I was loved,
that the bed was warm, that
my belly was full, that the sky
was a lovely shade of peach.
I did not have what I thought
I must have. It does not change
when you’re older. Oh, the whatevers
change, but the longing
is part of being alive.
Tonight I wanted you
to stop crying. I wanted it enough
it nearly made me cry.
But even more than that
I wanted something else
I can’t explain to you.
That greater wanting,
some kind of peace—
could you feel it, too, as it fell on us
like the most gentle rain,
how it fell on your anger,
my helplessness, your wanting,
my wanting—the kind of peace
that touches everything just as it is
and doesn’t change a thing
and changes everything.

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So much grace available, but how we receive it depends on what we can let go of.
—Joi Sharp

Inside the place where we are right, the rain
can never fall. Inside the place where we
are right, the leaves fall yellowed off the trees.
No breeze. No bells. No peaches. We explain.
We judge, contend, defend and claim, maintain
our certainty. And meanwhile, we don’t see
the lilacs wilting, grasses browning, bees
without their hives, lost crows, the sunset drained.

But sometimes in this shrinking cage of right
wings in a doubt. A question. Nothing’s clear.
And see how soon the crows return, a slight
of breeze, a scent of rain. I’ll meet you here,
this open place, exposed, unclosed. How light
spills in as our defenses disappear.

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When regret comes
with his stale breath
and tattered coat, arriving

at your door as he does
on the chillest night,
it is still easy to want

to close the door
and suggest he move
down the road. You know

if you let him in, he’ll ask
for your last glass of wine,
then wonder aloud

if you have any thread
to fix his overcoat, and
perhaps you know how

to sew? You guess
from that bottomless look
in his eye that no matter what

you do it will not be help enough.
Regret, you might say,
I’ll have none of you.

But you know he’ll come back,
next time with his dog,
its fleas, his flies.

Better, perhaps, to let him
in now. Offer him the wine.
Water, too. And when he says,

If only … then you might say,
I hear you. And when he says,
I wish … then you might say,

It’s not easy. Look him straight
in the eye. You both know
it’s true. He might cry.

It’s okay. You might cry, too.
And outside, the stars,
the stars do what stars

do. The night is cold,
he was right about that.
And the needle, it moves

through the threadbare wool,
your fingers sure of
every stitch.

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After the Argument

In the room where the boy
was crying still hangs the feeling

of tears. Though he is quiet
and now asleep. Though

the tides of his wails have lulled
into the slow luff of dream.

His absent howl in the starlit room
is like the sound of the sea

in a dusty shell—not here. But the ears
hear what they want to hear.

There is a choice to notice
the silence, how it fills

the room. Not even the cat is moving.
Or to polish again the memory

of the tears. Like a canker that only
hurts when its touched, but the tongue

visits again and again to be sure.
Oh. Yes. It still hurts.

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And then there is
that moment after
the thrust and jostle
and sprint, after the longing
and righteousness, after the fever,
the furor, the fire, the conviction, when,
burnt out by our own
red ferocity, we see
there is nothing, nothing
to be done. There is
no defeat in this,
only release,
Then only
uncertainty is sound
enough to hold us up.
Then unknowingness is the only
place we can truly rest.

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The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Dear World,

Thank you for breaking me.

The rabbit brush are in full bloom.
Yellow in the field. Yesterday
I mowed the edges of the drive
and as a matter of course
I mowed whatever rabbit brush
was in my path. The air
smelled so good then,
a clean, sharp scent,
almost like sage,
only softer.

I have not been very good.
I have not been very gentle.
I have not been very brave.
But I have been sincere.
And I have loved.

There was a time when
I wanted to weed all the rabbit brush
from the field. I wanted only field grass.
I would wait for it to rain for days,
then pull up as much rabbit brush as I could.

World, I have not been very good.
And you have broken me so perfectly—
always leading me to just the right place
for falling apart. World, how do you do that?

The rabbit brush always come back
and eventually I learned to leave them
wherever they leap up. And eventually I learned
to find them beautiful.

I have not been very gentle, world.
I have taken what I wanted, sometimes mercilessly.
And you take every opportunity to kill me,
sometimes with fear, sometimes
with great or small beauty.

Yellow. Yellow. Yellow.
Thousands of yellow hands
all waving each time I arrive.

World, I have not been very brave.
I am not like Hemingway. When the war comes
I try to hide. And still you come to kill me
like a warrior, like a soldier,
only much, much slower.

The rabbit brush does not mind drought.
It thrives in cracked, parched soil.
The rabbit brush does not mind the rain.
It thrives. It thrives.

I can’t say I like being broken, world.
I can’t say I like being killed.
But you do it so well and I do admire
your insuperable skill. Keep killing me,
world, keep breaking me. Keep finding
my flaws. Press until I crack.
I am broken, dying, thriving. I am waving
at you waving back.

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