Hymn: A New Poem by Sherman Alexie

(c) 2012 Laura Riggs

The author’s new poem addresses the hatred currently plaguing the United States.

“But I do know this: I will resist hate. I will resist.
I will stand and sing my love. I will use my fist

To drum and drum my love. I will write and read poems
That offer the warmth and shelter of any good home.

I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
I will sing for people who are not my family.

I will sing honor songs for the unfamilar and new.
I will visit a different church and pray in a different pew.

I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
About other people’s tragedies and glories.

I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.

And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.

I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.

We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.

We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.”

©2017, Sherman Alexie

Seven Today

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You would have been 7 today.
You’d be in first grade.
Learning to ride a bike on your own.
Free from harm, free from suffering.
Looking up to superheroes.
Like Superman, our little Superman.
You’d be starting to show more independence.
Able to tell time.
To know the days, the weeks, the months of the year.
Able to understand how short your time on Earth was.
And how long time has has dragged by since.
Sweet Jack, how I miss you so.

After a While…..by Veronica Shoffstall

Ran across this poem again today. I remember holding onto it with dear life a few years ago, hanging on each word, after my world came crashing down. When a friend shared it with me back then, this poem was my rock – I read it everyday to remind me that life was still worth living and that life wouldn’t end just because I had failed. Today, I read it with the gratitude that I failed because I learned so much from those failures and disappointments. I learned about the suffering caused by attachments and aversions, and about how resilient I truly was, in the face of adversity. And I am so utterly grateful that, through all of it, I learned to decorate my soul.

After a While…..by Veronica Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises,
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead,
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much, so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure,
you really are strong, you really do have worth,
and you learn and you learn.
With every goodbye, you learn.

Maya Angelou [April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014]

MayaWhen great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
–Maya Angelou