Where does the good go


I guess you can blame my Catholic education, but I am something of a Nazi about justice. Hmm…I should probably rephrase that sentence.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, injustice anywhere is a something something to justice everywhere. Hmm…I should probably google the precise wording of that quote.

(Raise your hand if you can tell that I totally forgot about Poetry Wednesday and I am very tired because I was tossing and turning all night because my braids are too tight? Put your hands down, jerkwads.)

*clears throat*

So, justice and me are, and always have been superfriends. And not just the whole eye for an eye thing, though I do stand by that, but a deeply ingrained sense of if someone is kind to you, you should be kind back. If someone needs help and you can help, you should. If you see something, say something. Someone is picking on your little cousin, they might have to meet with an unfortunate accident in the stairwell. I didn’t know about the concept of karma, then, but if I did, I would have probably gotten a tattoo which said “I am the karma I want to see in the world.”

Again, if I knew about karma. Oh, and if my mom wouldn’t have kicked my ass for getting a tattoo.

But the one aspect of living this karmic life that I always struggled with was gratitude. I could try to “pay my debts,” such as they were – but there are times when others just do things for you and you just aren’t in a position to “repay them,” so you’re just supposed to be grateful. Tell them you appreciate it. Man, I hated that! It feels so weak and humbling…but maybe, there’s some unsung strength in that…being able to accept help, being grateful at how someone improves your life. Or not.

But this poem made me think about that. And I figured I’d share. You’re welcome.

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Oh, this might also be a fine time to thank all my poetry Wednesday guest bloggers, Petitedov, Pearatty, Angela, Tae, Alceste, Mary, Vinnay, Fisch, Astin, Tito, Kaz, I truly sincerely thank you all for volunteering, all free-willed like, and sharing your favorite poems.

And Pearatty, I hope you have gotten closure.

Vinnay has volunteered to do another one next week, and I extend that invitation to any of you to repeat guest blog. And anyone who hasn’t done one yet, but would like to, just leave me a comment and I will assign you a Tuesday!

15 Responses to “Gratitude”

  1. Dawn Summers Says:

    Is my comments section broken?

  2. Dawn Summers Says:


  3. Pearatty Says:

    I love this poem. I’m pretty sure I read it in college, but it didn’t resonate with me the way it does now.

    I take it as a sign I have fully moved into parent stage and out of child stage, that I totally identify with the father in this poem now. This is heightened by the fact that I’m reading Portnoy’s Complaint (by Philip Roth) right now, and I’m kind of hating it. It’s really well written, but the whole time, I’m thinking “oh, fer heaven’s sake, man up — ‘wanh wanh wanh, my parents loved me too much; they made me eat my dinner and fawned over me.'”

    I think I would have liked that book a lot more, and this poem a lot less, when I was in my twenties.

  4. Dawn Summers Says:

    LOL… so it took becoming a parent to appreciate your parents?

  5. Pearatty Says:

    By the way, I don’t mean the above to be some kind of “ah, so good to be mature now.” I think it’s funny how subject to our own personal circumstances our perception of literature is, even if we think we’re open minded. Basically, it’s easy to empathize with people who are like you, and hard to empathize with people who aren’t. Some of the best literature gets you to empathize with people who aren’t like you (like this poem). But it’s a tough row to hoe.

  6. Dawn Summers Says:

    Hmm… this inspires a new post about the dearth of characters like me I was even exposed to as a kid.

  7. Angela Says:

    When I find another poem I like, I’ll write about it.

  8. Stephane Says:

    This poem is terrific! You win poetry wednesday!

  9. Pearatty Says:

    Cross-posted my first post with Dawn and then got called away — the answer to your question is, sort of. Actually, I admire parents like the one in this poem, who are doing the work of parenting, but maybe in ways that aren’t appreciated. Re: my own parents’ bad parenting, as a parent, I can now say with authority that they were pretty bad parents.

    I guess, what they did, they did pretty well and with love. It’s what they didn’t do that was out of selfishness and laziness.

  10. Dawn Summers Says:

    When you and mr. p dash off for your week in ny, feel free to leave the boy with me. I will not judge.

  11. Pearatty Says:

    Yes, but will you give the boy back at the end of the week?

    I’m no fool.

  12. Dawn summers Says:

    He will always know that his parents his parents loved him very much for a little while. Also, to never trust white people.

  13. PokerLawyer Says:

    That’s a beautiful poem…had never read it.

    Also..“I am the karma I want to see in the world,” insta-copyright!!!

  14. Pearatty Says:

    Mr. P. says he wants a t-shirt with “I am the karma I want to see in the world,” on it.

  15. Mr. Pearatty Says:

    “Be the karma you want to see in the world.” Really like that idea! (Nice poem too.)

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