Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Happiness

There's a happiness, a joy 
in one soul, that's been 
buried alive in everyone 
and forgotten.

It isn't your barroom joke 
or tender, intimate humor 
or affections of friendliness 
or big, bright pun.

They're the surviving survivors 
of what happened when happiness 
was buried alive, when 
it no longer looked out

of today's eyes, and doesn't 
even manifest when one 
of us dies, we just walk away 
from everything, alone

with what's left of us, 
going on being human beings 
without being human, 
without that happiness.


Reprinted from Front Lines by permission of City Lights Books. Copyright © 2002 by Jack Hirschman. All rights reserved.


Jack Hirschman

Jack Hirschman is a poet and translator. The former poet laureate of San Francisco, Hirschman is the author of numerous books of poetry. He lives in San Francisco.

Date Published: 2002-01-01

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