Not merely because Henry James said there were but four rules of life— be kind be kind be kind be kind—but because it's good for the soul, and, what's more, for others, it may be that kindness is our best audition for a worthier world, and, despite the vagueness and uncertainty of its recompense, a bird may yet wander into a bush before our very houses, gratitude may not manifest itself in deeds entirely equal to our own, still there's weather arriving from every direction, the feasts of famine and feasts of plenty may yet prove to be one, so why not allow the little sacrificial squinches and squigulas to prevail? Why not inundate the particular world with minute particulars? Dust's certainly all our fate, so why not make it the happiest possible dust, a detritus of blessedness? Surely the hedgehog, furling and unfurling into its spiked little ball, knows something that, with gentle touch and unthreatening tone, can inure to our benefit, surely the wicked witches of our childhood have died and, from where they are buried, a great kindness has eclipsed their misdeeds. Yes, of course, in the end so much comes down to privilege and its various penumbras, but too much of our unruly animus has already been wasted on reprisals, too much of the unblessed air is filled with smoke from undignified fires. Oh friends, take whatever kindness you can find and be profligate in its expenditure: It will not drain your limited resources, I assure you, it will not leave you vulnerable and unfurled, with only your sweet little claws to defend yourselves, and your wet little noses, and your eyes to the ground, and your little feet.
Michael Blumenthal - 1949-
The Difference between a Child and a Poem
If you are terrified of your own death, and want to escape from it, you may want to write a poem, for the poem might carry your name into eternity, the poem may become immortal, beyond flesh and fashion, it may be read in a thousand years by someone as frightened of death as you are, in a dark field, at night, when he has failed once again at love and there is no illusion with which to escape the inward pull of his own flesh against the narrowing margins of the spirit. But if you have accepted your own death, if you have pinched daily the corroborating flesh, and have passed the infinite gravestones bearing your name, if you know for certain that the day will one day come when you will gaze into the mirror in search of your face and find only a silence, then you may want to make a child, you may want to push the small oracles of flesh forward into some merely finite but lengthening story, you may want to toss your seed into the wind like a marigold, or a passion fruit, and watch as a fresh flower grows in your place, as your face inches onto another face, and your eyes slip down over your cheeks onto the forehead of your silenced, speakable future. And, then, when you are done with all that, you may want to write a poem.