Poem of the Week, by John Okrent

I’d love to see you in the Zoom room, January 7-13, in our first-ever, informal, kick off the new year with joy and freedom Write Together session! Seven days of morning and evening prompts, join in for any or all. Each session recorded in case you miss one. Click here for all the details.

Yesterday I went to my neighborhood post office for the first time since it was rebuilt. It’s been a long three years and I was so happy to see Fred back at his station. Fred is the greatest postal clerk in the history of the world: so funny, so endearing, so full of smiles and quips and zippy repartee.

I was afraid he’d retired but nope, there he was, making everyone’s day better, in the same way that Elizabeth, my favorite grocery story cashier, makes my life better. “How are YOU?” she will say when I haven’t been shopping in a while. “I see you’re baking again today, aren’t you?”

Fred, Elizabeth, the elderly man who walks his elderly dog past my house every day: these people and so many others at the edges of my daily life, weaving in color and caring and kindness. It is beautiful to be glad to see a person every time you see them.

May 5, 2020, by John Okrent

It is beautiful to be glad to see a person
every time you see them, as I was to see Juan,
the maintenance man, with whom it was always the same
brotherly greeting—each of us thumping a fist
over his heart and grinning, as though we shared a joke,
or bread. I barely knew him. Evenings in clinic,
me finishing my work, him beginning his—
fluorescence softening in the early dark. He wasn’t even fifty,
had four grandchildren, fixed what was broken, cleaned
for us, caught the virus, and died on his couch
last weekend. And what right have I to write this poem,
who will not see him in his uniform of ashes,
only remember him, in his Seahawks cap, and far from sick,
locking up after me, turning up his music.

Click here for more information on poet John Okrent.

My podcast: Words by Winter


  1. Louise Castner · December 17

    Thanks for this, Alison. Wh


    • alisonmcghee · December 21

      You are so welcome, Louise.


  2. mbarrette15outlookcom · December 17

    Thanks Alison for this week`s Poem and for all of them throughout the year.

    This week`s poem obviously struck a chord with me.

    Strangers no more

    Throughout the pandemic ,
    uncertain of what our future would look like,
    hoping that we would soon resume our life where it had left off,
    we somehow knew that we would be forever changed

    Stories of those who did not survive their battle with the virus of this century were soon added to those who lost theirs to cancers, old age , tragic accidents ….

    Touched by this unspoken friendship between two “almost” strangers on the West Coast,
    I ,like him, was sadden by his sudden death.
    Still, another in an ever-growing series of deaths we find difficult to accept

    And then
    this week , on a street in a Montreal
    Maria, 7, was walking to her new school with her older brother and sister
    Having recently found refuge from Ukraines devils playing fields,
    leaving her dad behind to battle him
    She, her mother and siblings were starting anew.

    But then again, tragedy ….
    a speeding, sleepy driver,
    a janitor after his night shift, another,
    himself new to our land,

    Strangers, all of us, all of them, yet
    We feel the ache.
    The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
    The country`s

    Despite the pandemic`s destruction, compassion won.
    Strangers care, feel.

    As we near the end of this year,
    the end of the unknown until the next “big one”
    We are strangers no more !

    Dearest Alison,

    I hope that you realize what your pandemic podcasts, these weekly poems have done to me.
    They bring out the humanity we so desperately need in this era of Trump and Putin`s evil words and deeds.
    Your contribution in reminding us that we are strangers no more feels me with hope.

    We were truly blessed this year with weddings and a new life here, Hailey !!

    May 2023 bring more peace and love.

    Je t`aimes beaucoup Alison et te remercie pour tout !


    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · December 21

      Oh my beautiful ami, one of the great gifts of the pandemic was getting to know you. You have lifted my heart more than you know, Mario. I send my love and my thanks for your kindness and your connections, for this post and others. Big big hugs for Hailey! XO


  3. April Halprin Wayland · December 20

    This one cracks my heart open ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · December 21

      Me too, my lovely friend.


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