Monday, March 28, 2005

Two of My Favorites by John Ciardi (1916-1986)

Palaver's No prayer
PALAVER'S no prayer.
There's a nice-ninny priest
at tea in everyone,
all cozy and chatty as auntie,
but a saint comes
and throws rocks through the window.

In Place of a Curse
At the next vacancy for God, if I am elected,
I shall forgive last the delicately wounded
who, having been slugged no harder than anyone else,
never got up again, neither to fight back,
nor finger their jaws in painful admiration.
They who are wholly broken, and they in whom
mercy is understanding, I shall embrace at once
and lead to pillows in heaven. But they who are
the meek by trade, baiting the best of their betters
with the extortions of a mock-helplessness
I shall take last to love, and never wholly.
Let them all into Heaven--I abolish Hell--
but let it be read over them as they enter:
"Beware the calculations of the meek, who gambled nothing,
gave nothing, and who could never receive enough."
(From 39 Poems --1959)


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