Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Little Book of Cheerful Thoughts

Small enough to fit 
in your shirt pocket
so you could take it out
in a moment of distress
to ingest a happy 
maxim or just stare
a while at its orange
and yellow cover
(so cheerful in itself
you need go no further),
this little booklet
wouldn’t stop a bullet 
aimed at your heart

and seems a flimsy 
shield against despair,
whatever its contents.
But there it is
by the cash register,
so I pick it up
as I wait in line and
come to a sentence
saying there are few
things that can’t be 
cured by a hot bath
above the name 
Sylvia Plath.

I rest my case,
placing the booklet
back by its petite
companions Sweet Nothings
and Simple Wisdom
but not The Book of Sorrows,
a multivolume set
like the old Britannica
that each of us receives
in installments
of unpredictable
heft and frequency
over a lifetime.

Credit


Copyright © 2021 by Jeffrey Harrison. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“I wrote this poem before the pandemic and before the murder of George Floyd. There were plenty of horrible things going on in the country, as well as in my personal life, including the suicide of one of my oldest and closest friends. None of these things are in the poem explicitly, but they are certainly behind it.”
Jeffrey Harrison

Author


Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison is the author of Between Lakes (Four Way Books, 2020) and six other books of poetry. He lives in Dover, Massachusetts.

Date Published: 2021-04-22

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/little-book-cheerful-thoughts