Poem of the Week, by John Daniel

So last week I was talking with this guy at a party, both of us horrified by this country’s lack of affordable housing, the grinding pain of life on the streets or in a tent city. How to make things better? Tiny house communities, with onsite health care and social services? Onsite laundry, a door you can lock, access to food, community, nature? Each of us had done a bunch of research. We didn’t agree on everything.

Guess what, I’m Republican, he said at one point, as if it were a bad word that would come as a shock to me (apparently I give off a certain political vibe).

Oh, I could tell, I said, and he laughed. Big deal.

Enough with the endless fixation on dividing ourselves into camps. Enough, enough, enough. Our problems are too big. We’re all dependent on each other.

Dependence Day, by John Daniel

It would be a quieter holiday, no fireworks

or loud parades, no speeches, no salutes to any flag,

a day of staying home instead of crowding away,

a day we celebrate nothing gained in war

but what we’re given—how the sun’s warmth

is democratic, touching everyone,

and the rain is democratic too,

how the strongest branches in the wind

give themselves as they resist, resist

and give themselves, how birds could have no freedom

without the planet’s weight to wing against,

how Earth itself could come to be

only when a whirling cloud of dust

pledged allegiance as a world

circling dependently around a star, and the star

blossomed into fire from the ash of other stars,

and once, at the dark zero of our time,

a blaze of revolutionary light

exploded out of nowhere, out of nothing,

because nothing needed the light,

as the brilliance of the light itself needs nothing.

Click here for more information about John Daniel.


Words by Winter: my podcast


  1. Mim K. · August 6

    What a beautiful poem, and just the one I needed today. The democracy of sunshine and rain…Thank you, Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · August 6

      I’m so glad it was right for you today, Mim. And yes! The rain!


  2. sahagens · August 6

    That’s a beauty.


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