Friday, January 13, 2017


From Wikimedia Commons

Next week, events which seemed totally impossible a year ago, will occur. And I can't wrap my head around it. And I don't know what to do to make the world less ugly. Or less unbearable. So I just keep doing the tiny kindnesses that I can do. Tying a kindergartner's shoe. Helping a fourteen-year-old call the admissions office at the high school she wants to attend. Carrying on a conversation with my son at the end of a fourteen hour school day.  Being gentle with people I love.  Knowing that is not nearly enough. Hoping it will be. 


This evening, the sturdy Levi's
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don't know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into this street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe 
it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

—Steve Kowit
Keri is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. 


Katie TheLogonauts said...

I too find that my only response is to focus small. Think about the differences I can make in the kids I teach - help them to open up their hearts and to think critically with their heads.

Linda B said...

One of my husband's nephews died suddenly in November, so this poem speaks loudly to me, Carol. He was 55. I hear you loud & clear, & being gentle is a path I will follow, know that you will, too. The poem is a dark message, but we all need to listen.

Kay said...

Yes, pass it on. I hope and pray that the weight of thousands (upon thousands) of acts of daily kindness will be enough to make a difference for good--and beautiful poetic reminders like this one to be be grateful and kind while we still can. Thank you for all you do and those acts of kindness that go unnoticed except by the one who receives it.

Jane @ said...

A former classmate of mine, who was just starting her new career, received a devastating cancer diagnosis and passed away within months. Life can just be so unpredictable, and it can be terrifying. Sometimes all we can do is cling to the small, everyday actions we can control, and to find comfort in the small joys and everyday acts of kindness that no one can take away from us. Stay strong.

Linda Mitchell said...

My community is reeling from the death of a mom of five....died suddenly...found by her youngest. Each day is truly a gift. I appreciate the strength of this poem. It's so true that we bear up, buck up, walk around with stiff upper lips and then a pair of ripped jeans and suddenly let the grief enter in.
Look at all the responses in the responses here.....shows you how important this poem is in our lives.
Thank you for sharing it. It is an act of love that you have.

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

I can't think of my life like a pair of Levis ripped at the crotch, not yet. Somehow, it made me laugh rather than feel sad. It was like seeing tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. Instead of thinking about the tea being gone, I think about what the future might hold. What new pants will arrive to take the place of those ripped at the crotch? Where will they take me? Will they fly on a plane or fall into the deep end of a pool after long hours of dancing? Will they flirt at the back of my closet with my striped pencil skirt?

Mary Lee said...

This poem, Karen Edmisten's poem, Keri's video, Ruth in Haiti's poem...the message is loud and clear, Oh Universe!

I do believe, Carol, that all the ways you/we offer needle and thread to those whose crotches have ripped out do great good in the world. Let's keep on with the small kindnesses. It's what we can do every minute of every day, and they WILL pile up and make a huge difference. I believe.

Keri said...

I just finished listening to a book set during WWII, and it reinforces the idea that we must do what we can do, no matter how "small" we might think it is, because it all works together for good. And doing something rather than feeling helpless and hopeless, is the path toward peace.