(See the bottom* of the post for ideas.) When I don't have a crowd-sourced combo
scheduled, I'll share one of my own many, many PMMUs! If something comes to your
mind, send it to me HERE.
Today our match-up is suggested by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater and some of her family. She starts us off with a poem she calls "everyone's favorite." We can't know exactly when it was written or why, but it feels absolutely of the moment.
Before you know what kindness really isyou must lose things,feel the future dissolve in a momentlike salt in a weakened broth.What you held in your hand,what you counted and carefully saved,all this must go so you knowhow desolate the landscape can bebetween the regions of kindness.How you ride and ridethinking the bus will never stop,the passengers eating maize and chickenwill stare out the window forever.Before you learn the tender gravity of kindnessyou must travel where the Indian in a white poncholies dead by the side of the road.You must see how this could be you,how he too was someonewho journeyed through the night with plansand 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 voicecatches the thread of all sorrowsand you see the size of the cloth.Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,only kindness that ties your shoesand sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,only kindness that raises its headfrom the crowd of the world to sayIt is I you have been looking for,and then goes with you everywherelike a shadow or a friend.From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995
For a noisier counterpoint to this quietly powerful poem, Amy introduces me
to a new artist with this song by Fred Small. The lyrics of this song, below, highlight for me the difference between the quality of narrative vs. poetry and also lyrics vs. poetry--a narrative lyric can get to the same place, but via very different roads of experience.
Scrambled Eggs and Prayers || Fred SmallFive convicts broke free from the Braden prison yard
Five men armed and dangerous, five hearts stony hard.
They ran down to the bottom where the Hatchie runs black
Where many have fled but few have come back
Louise and her friend Renzie were talking on the phone
All about the fugitives desperate on the run
She just had time to whisper, "Renzie, call the police"
When he stepped up with his shotgun, saying, "Everybody freeze."
She said, "Sit down, young man, I don't want no violence here
I can see your body's weary and your soul laden with care
I'll cook you up some breakfast, you put that gun away.
Now sit down, young man, and pray."
He said, "Lady, I'm so hungry, I ain't eaten for three days"
She took out her skillet, fixed him bacon, bread, and eggs.
She talked about the bible, eyes crinkled when she smiled
He set down that shotgun and obeyed her like a child
She said, "Where is your mother?" He said, "I wish I knew."
She said, "I know your mother is praying for you.
I'm seventy-three years old, raised two boys of my own
And I know we must face judgment when we have done wrong."
He heard the cruiser coming, the cops were at the door
He looked out the window, said, "They'll kill me now for sure."
She said, "Finish up your breakfast, I'll let them do no harm."
He left the shotgun on the sofa and surrendered unarmed.
Now some folks might have meekly done whatever he had said
And some folks might have jumped him and probably turned up dead
You can tell it to your daughters and teach it to your sons
That scrambled eggs and prayers are stronger than guns.from the album No Limit, 1985
As if that weren't enough richness for one day, Amy and her daughter Georgia take this match-up game a little further, suggesting this short story by Langston Hughes, Thank You, Ma'am, and this musical scene from Les Miserables. You see it here from the 2012 movie version:
"The Bishop" from Les Miserables
Over and over we see sorrow and hardship and forgiveness and generosity, but we never stop needing the lesson (especially in 2nd grade): be kind.
Today's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Michelle at Today's Little Ditty. It's another place to sip from many cups of kindness!