So you aren’t Tolstoy or St. Francis
or even a well-known singer
of popular songs and will never read Greek
or speak French fluently,
will never see something no one else
has seen before through a lens
or with the naked eye.
You’ve been given just the one life
in this world that matters
and upon which every other life
somehow depends as long as you live,
and also given the costly gifts of hunger,
choice, and pain with which to raise
a modest shrine to meaning.
— Leonard Nathan
Mysterious shapes, with wands of joy and pain,
Which seize us unaware in helpless sleep,
And lead us to the houses where we keep
Our secrets hid, well barred by every chain
That we can forge and bind: the crime whose stain
Is slowly fading ’neath the tears we weep;
Dead bliss which, dead, can make our pulses leap—
Oh, cruelty! To make these live again!
They say that death is sleep, and heaven’s rest
Ends earth’s short day, as, on the last faint gleam
Of sun, our nights shut down, and we are blest.
Let this, then, be of heaven’s joy the test,
The proof if heaven be, or only seem,
That we forever choose what we will dream!
— Helen Hunt Jackson
is to rise above the weak spirit
is to take on pain
is to push pain in the chest
with both palms
stumbling over garbage,
gravel, fragments of life,
is to say I will take you
on in the street.
Every breath of mine
is a battering ram,
swinging a hammer of air.
I am a body of fast moving blood
taking you in like a tank.
I will consume your hate.
I will run straight into you
as if you were a finish line of joy,
picking up the fallen along the way
and you will never stop me,
you will never
— Scott Poole
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
— Carol Ann Duffy
stay strong through your pain
grow flowers from it
you have helped me
grow flowers out of mine so
however you need
— Rupi Kaur