Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ The Kindness of Strangers

Image result for The kindness of strangers

“There are billions of us and that's too many. Nobody knows anyone. Strangers come and violate you. Strangers come and cut your heart out. 
Strangers come and take your blood. ” 
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

"How often are the perpetrators of hate-crimes discovered to be 
self-loathing?  Valued individuals do not strike out 
against strangers. "
 --Harvey Fierstein

“We encounter God in the face of a stranger."― Jonathan Sacks

Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

"A New Book Says You Should Talk to Strangers. 

"Counterpoint says: No."  ~ by 


Midweek Motif ~ The Kindness 
of Strangers

2 years ago, I read in The Guardian
There’s a reason Tennessee Williams wrote about the kindness of strangers; there’s a reason the phrase has entered the cultural lexicon. The kindness of strangers can turn a bad day good, or give hope, or change lives, or more banally, make sure we’re not late to something, give our legs a rest on the bus home. I try to be kind to strangers. Strangers are kind to me. In north London a few weeks ago, a man handed me a piece of paper with a smile on it; a woman let me use her phone, in the rain, entirely lost.  ~
The rest of the article is about benevolent meetings in a bar and the relationships that grew from them. 

I also have had fine interactions with strangers in crowds and trains and libraries. And then there are the other meetings ~ not so kind and sometimes dangerous.  In fact, the irony of the phrase from Tennessee Williams is that Blanche says this to a man who is leading her to an asylum. It's sad that social structures that used to uphold her society are eroded and no longer sustaining.   Sigh.   Is that happening around us today?

Your Challenge:  Write a new poem that draws attention to the kindness of strangers.

by Emily Dickinson
These Strangers, in a foreign World,
Protection asked of me --
Befriend them, lest Yourself in Heaven
Be found a Refugee --
For Carol Rigolot
When deeds splay before us
precious as gold & unused chances
stripped from the whine-bone,
we know the moment kindheartedness
walks in. Each praise be
echoes us back as the years uncount
themselves, eating salt. Though blood
first shaped us on the climbing wheel,
the human mind lit by the savanna’s
ice star & thistle rose,
your knowing gaze enters a room
& opens the day,
saying we were made for fun.
Even the bedazzled brute knows
(Read the rest HERE)
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.
. . . . (Read the rest HERE.)
The Phantom Stranger.jpg
Cover of The Phantom Stranger (Jan. 2013) #4. 
 Art by Brent Anderson.

(Next week, Sumana's Midweek Motif will be MIRROR.)
Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—


  1. Given these troubling times, Susan,this week's motif is, the appropriate theme, we should be aiming for, in our interactions with others.

    1. Thank you, Therisa. It helps even to think of strangers and kindnesses, reminding ourselves that the scale is weighted on the side of generosity.

  2. Good morning Poets United! A poem kept scratching at my mind, demanding to be written though it seemed strange to me. It still does, though I'm sure I caught the drift of what it wanted to be. And so, I'm awake at 7 am in a very snowy Philly without having slept at all! I'll be taking a nap mid-morning, I think. I shouldn't complain about our 6 inches of snow, however. I understand up North 2 feet of snow fell!

    Have a wonderful day, noticing kindness wherever it occurs.

    1. Toronto got about 5 cm of snow, while Buffalo, New York got hammered, which is usual, for this time of year.

    2. And now there are more snow showers! Just when a friend helped me to chip my car out of the ice.

  3. Hello everyone,

    It's a beautiful evening here in K.L ❤️ sharing my poem "Benevolence" thank you Susan for the lovely opportunity; this one's for you!❤️

    Lots of love,

  4. a timely prompt Susan and it's so wonderful to read the heartfelt poems today...

    1. Always so many surprises, aren't there? It keeps the blood flowing.

  5. If we are just, if we are loving, are we not kind by default also?
    I have an issue with kindness of ulterior motives and charity given from the brain and not the heart.

    1. I understand that, though each person gives what they can--one material and another the leaven of caring. I have found kindness sometimes to be patronizing or manipulating--neither of which were welcome.

  6. So lovely to read so many good poems on kindness. Reminds you to do better.

    1. Yes, I like what this focus has brought to mind today. Thank you.

  7. Replies
    1. Haha. You made this very clear. Thank you.

  8. An inspiring prompt, Susan. I especially love the poem by Naomi Nye.........I am awaiting inspiration, but will write if it alights on my tired brain. Smiles.

  9. I liked this Susan and came up with something that served me for more than just this challenge. Thanks for the help! (You'll see.)

    I hope everyone is having a nice week. Spring is almost here and I'm in the timezone I like so I'm pretty happy. Hugs!

    1. Thank you for posting your poem. Now that we're getting winter in the Northeastern USA, it's hard to remember we're on the verge of spring.

  10. Hi Poets! Happy Wednesday!Coming back after a long break....and it feels so good! :))
    Susan, The prompt inspired me to write something...hope it fits well here!
    Shall come back tomorrow to read the other entries...Thank you, Susan!

    1. It fits well, as do you. It is great to see you!

  11. I luv this prompt but posted late, as i wanted to craft a live moment into haiku. Beleive me folks that tiny poem can cause lots of tension in its crafting. If one wants to stay true to the classical form.

    much love...

  12. Hi Susan.... I will be making my rounds later today and tomorrow! Really nice prompt this time.

  13. I am very late. Thank you for an excellent prompt. Enjoyed reading and writing.Your Spring is winter. Our Autumn is monsoonal....rains and storms every day...unusual and unwelcome !


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