Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Kindness

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore there be any kindness I can show...let me do it now.” 
― William Penn

Placard for kindness, at the People's Climate March (2017).

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” 
― George Sand

"The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.” 
― Charles de Lint

“In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.” 

― Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall spent decades studying chimpanzees . . .
From article about National Geographic Documentary "Jane"
11/7/2017 by Jordan Riefe. Photo Courtesy of Goodall Institute. 

Midweek Motif ~ Kindness

  • To be "kind" (n) is "to be related."
  • To "be kind" (adv) is "to treat each other as lovingly as we would like to be treated."
These two meanings may depend upon each other, as we tend to be kinder toward those with whom we sense a relationship. 
Or is it the opposite?

Your Challenge: In a new poem, show us how you know/imagine kindness and its possibility.

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

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 gaze at 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.

Kindness glides about my house.

Dame Kindness, she is so nice!
The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke
In the windows, the mirrors
Are filling with smiles.

What is so real as the cry of a child?
A rabbit's cry may be wilder
But it has no soul.

Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.

Sugar is a necessary fluid,
Its crystals a little poultice.

O kindness, kindness
Sweetly picking up pieces!
My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,
May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.

And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.

The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.

You hand me two children, two roses.


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
when sunlight falls through leaves
across honed knives on the table.
If we can see it push shadows
aside, growing closer, are we less
broken? A barometer, temperature
gauge, a ruler in minus fractions
& pedigrees, a thingmajig,
a probe with an all-seeing eye,
what do we need to measure
kindness, every unheld breath,
every unkind leapyear?
Sometimes a sober voice is enough
to calm the waters & drive away
the false witnesses, saying, Look,
here are the broken treaties Beauty
brought to us earthbound sentinels.

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


  1. A wonderful prompt Susan. Hello everyone! I'll see all of you tomorrow as I'll be on train again for another night journey. Happy writing :)

  2. Happy Poetry Day! See you on the road, everyone.

  3. Good morning, poet friends. Looking forward to a morning of kindness.

  4. I love that De Lint quote. And rereading here makes me want to reread some of his books. I think I will. It will be a huge kindness to me. :-D

    I shall read some of the offerings. And write my own bit on it later in the week.

    1. Mmm, yes, rereading de Lint would be a kindness to myself too! Thanks for the thought.

    2. I just gave away all my deLint books! I'm paring back, but when I saw this quote I mourned that choice. I included it ere out of pure longing.

    3. I've given away many of my De Lint printed books, too--you know in NYC space is an issue. But I always hold on to my audio and electronic editions (thank goodness for adjustable fonts!). Also, I keep my print copy of Memory and Dream close by... for emergencies (and because I absolutely adore the cover). :-D

  5. Although I have been the recipient of much kindness, especially just recently, a cynical little ditty fell onto my page from somewhere. A product of sadness, I suppose; not really my belief system. But still....

    1. Thank you for posting it, Rosemary. It contains so much truth.

  6. Evening, Poets! Thanks, Susan, for posting the Midweek Motif this week!

  7. What a lovely prompt, and I adored the little film!

  8. Ah, better late than never!! Nice theme.


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