Inspiration: Poems

Prayer to Practice the Golden Rule

May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly. May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good. May I wish for all men’s happiness and envy...

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Poem: “Dangerous Coats” by Sharon Owens

Someone clever once said Women were not allowed pockets In case they carried leaflets To spread sedition Which means unrest To you & me A grandiose word For commonsense Fairness Kindness Equality So ladies, start sewing Dangerous coats Made of pockets &...

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Poem: “Taking Turns, by Jeanie Greensfelder

I pass a woman on the beach. We both wear graying hair, feel sand between our toes, hear surf, and see blue sky. I came with a smile. She came to get one. No. I'm wrong. She sits on a boulder by a cairn of stacked rocks. Hands over her heart, she stares out to sea....

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Poem: “Passive Voice,” by Laura Da’

I use a trick to teach students how to avoid passive voice. Circle the verbs. Imagine inserting “by zombies” after each one. Have the words been claimed by the flesh-hungry undead? If so, passive voice. I wonder if these sixth graders will recollect, on summer...

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Poem: ” About Suffering,” by Elisa Gabbert

Part of suffering is the useless urge to announce that you’re suffering. There is no other way to say it: I’m suffering. Just to say “I suffer” helps. I read somewhere, “we become lyrical when we suffer.” Happiness is suffering for the right reasons. First-order...

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Poem: ” Words,” by Pauli Murray

We are spendthrifts with words, We squander them, Toss them like pennies in the air– Arrogant words, Angry words, Cruel words, Comradely words, Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear. But the slowly wrought words of love and the thunderous words of heartbreak– Those we...

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Poem: ” Comfort Animal,” by Joy Ladin

From the sequence “Shekhinah Speaks” Comfort, comfort my people ... —Isaiah 40:1 A voice says, “Your punishment has ended.” You never listen to that voice. You really suck at being comforted. Another voice says, “Cry.” That voice always gets your attention, keeps you...

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Poem: ” To be of use,” by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half-submerged balls. I love people who...

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Poem: “I worried,” by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers flow in the right direction, will the earth turn as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it? Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, can I do better? Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows...

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Poem: “Arachis Hypogaea,” by Marilyn Nelson

Great Creator, why did you make the peanut? —GWC Arachis Hypogaea may have been smuggled to North America by slaves who hid seeds of survival in their hair. Despite your nakedness, the chains, the stench, if white men did not eat you, you might come to a cruel land...

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Poem: “BLK History Month,” by Nikki Giovanni

If Black History Month is not viable then wind does not carry the seeds and drop them on fertile ground rain does not dampen the land and encourage the seeds to root sun does not warm the earth and kiss the seedlings and tell them plain: You’re As Good As Anybody Else...

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Poem: “Bottled Water,” by Kim Dower

I go to the corner liquor store for a bottle of water, middle of a hectic day, must get out of the office, stop making decisions, quit obsessing does my blue skirt clash with my hot pink flats; should I get my mother a caregiver or just put her in a home, and I pull...

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