Friday, January 6, 2017

This place could be beautiful, right?

I read this poem several weeks ago, and it's one that is still sticking around in my mind. I sent it to a friend who has recently become sober, and it's one of those poems that I keep coming back to as we face a shifting political climate (I'm still having a hard time listening to NPR like I used to...). 

"Good Bones" by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.


Is it depressing or hopeful? 

(Maybe depends on your opinion of realtors?)

I read it differently depending on the day, but I think I mostly try to feel hopeful about it. I mean, "Life is short and the world / is at least half terrible" and maybe we are living in a shithole that's going to sink under the sea when global warming melts all the ice caps in 50 years, and I'm trying to package that up to sell it to my kids as their future, but I'm optimistic about future generations (remember, the millennials almost all voted blue). 

So I still think, yeah, "You could make this place beautiful."

Here's to making things beautiful in 2017.


  1. I love this poem. I read it over and over again, and have shared it several times.

    I find it hopeful.

  2. I think this poem is interesting and depressing and true.

  3. Love this. I knew I was close to being myself after M died when I thought, It's still a beautiful world out there, even when it humbles you and breaks your heart.

  4. There are days when this poem would crush me, be the final nail, but today, it feels like hope.

  5. It's a lot easier for me to be hopeful and teach my children that they can make the world more beautiful if I believe that it is only 5% terrible instead of half. "At least half terrible" feels daunting!

  6. I love this poem. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow…this one could play with you. I agree, it reads differently depending on your mood. It's sobering, but true. Thank you for sharing it. And for being someone with whom I know I'm safe voicing my own opinions regarding this political climate.

  8. Thought and conversation provoking rather than depressing. It speaks to whatever state your mind may be in, but offers introspective hope too.