A few recent poems...

In my daily writing before dawn, I find myself writing what I’ve come to call “post-election poems,” seeking ways that poetry might participate in healing our country’s mysterious divisions…


         Election Morning Starlight

We have not done enough to spare our country

this avalanche of foolishness—not by word

or heroic act, sufficient witness at the fulcrum

to raise our state of union that lies in the gutter.


A bird could peep more wisdom

than any microphone, the wind sweep

more confessions from the poor,

if only votes too young could count.


So much shouting has squandered listening

and exiled thought, so much free loot sold

among debris the rally left behind

when the campaign bus roared away.


So I gaze up to what is pure and old,

deeply conservative in my devotion

to what is young and beautiful:

rain, dawn, bud, and sturdy root.



When things go catawampus,

when silences abound,

when nations reel from troubles

and tyranny is crowned—

by writing, be the righter

and see what can be found

for remedy and comfort

by writing stories down

of all our old connections,

then pass your blessings round—

for people long divided,

restore our common ground.


     Practicing the Complex Yes

When you disagree with a friend,

a stranger, or a foe, how do you

reply but not say simply No?

For No can stop the conversation

or turn it into argument or worse—

the conversation that must go on,

as a river must, a friendship, a troubled nation.

So may we practice the repertoire

                          of complex yes:


Yes, I know you feel that way, and...

Yes, and in what you say I see...

Yes, oh yes, and at the same time...

Yes, I see, and what if...?

Yes, I hear you, and how...?

Yes, and there’s an old story...

Yes, and as the old song goes...

Yes, and as a child once told me...

Yes. Tell me more. I want to understand...

And then I want to tell you how it is for me....


   Champion the Enemy's Need

Ask about your enemy’s wounds and scars.

Seek his hidden cause of trouble.

Feed your enemy’s children.

Learn their word for home.

Repair their well.

Learn their sorrow's history.

Trace their lineage of the good.

Ask them for a song.

Make tea. Break bread.

      Poet of the Clan

When ancient troubles flared—

battle imminent in the sunlit glen—

the Laird sent his poet to a hill

to witness each heroic act

in the slaughter, so,

should a generation be slain,

the brave ballad might yet survive.


Now, in troubled times, our work

is otherwise: each lyric reminder

of our humanity may be a medallion

glimmering along the dark road of this

confounding epoch, guiding us

to avoid the precipice, and keep

to the far destination home.

These and other poems are available in The Flavor of Unity from Lulu.com

© Kim Stafford 2012