Poem of the Week, by Muriel Rukeyser

I’d love to see you in one of my spring workshops! Details here.

Observation: anyone who thinks it’s an insult to describe someone as a “former comedian” has clearly never stood alone in front of a crowd of people with the intention of making them laugh. Doing so takes crazy courage, along with smarts, empathy, compassion, and an ability not only to sense but to change the energy of the room. Go to a Moth show sometime. Stand up on stage and tell a story. Put your heart on the line.

When you do that, you’ll likely be terrified. You’ll look out at the packed room and all you’ll see is the glare of the spotlight. You won’t see all the people cheering you on with the kindness it’s possible to show a stranger who’s putting themself on the line.

I don’t know what will happen in Ukraine. I do know that Zelenskyy, the former comedian, is brave as hell.

Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars), by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
the newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
the news would pour out of various devices
interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
they would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
we would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
to construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
to reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
to let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.


  1. Cathy Lentes · March 5, 2022

    Thank you this poem, and commentary, Alison. Much needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: today’s subject | Puff Of Smoke Poems

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