I really feel that some people neglect and overlook compassion because they associate it with religion. Of course, everyone is free to choose whether they pay religion any regard, but to neglect compassion is a mistake because it is the source of our own well-being.                                                                                   –Dalai Lama

Welcome to crunchy, pungent, frosty and darkened days of late autumn poetry! As the sun slants into our windows, we find fresh inspiration in the changing seasons. As we move inside in preparation for winter, we rediscover connections with friends and family.

But what about strangers? Do we have connections with people we have never met who happen to inhabit the same planet? On facebook I saw a photo of a power strip attached to a fence. The sign read, “We have power. Feel free to charge up your cell phone.” The person who wrote that sign has a huge amount of well-being.

Think about your extended — or horizontal connections. How to they affect you? How can you infuse your writing with global generosity?


To the night I offered a flower
and the dark sky accepted it
like earth, bedding
for light.

To the desert I offered an apple
and the dunes received it
like a mouth, speaking
for wind.

To the installation I offered a tree
and the museum planted it
like a man, viewing
his place.

To the ocean I offered a seed
and its body dissolved it
like time, composing
a life.

–by Howard Altmann
Now look at this lovely poem by Joseph Stroud. It is so interesting how he uses what most of us would think of as the last line as a title.

And I Raised my Hand in Return

Every morning for two weeks on my walk into the village

I would see the young goat on the grassy slope above the stream.

It belonged to the Gypsies who lived in the plaza below the castle.

One day on my walk back to the mill house I saw the little goat

hanging from a tree by its hind legs, and a Gypsy was pulling

the skin off with a pair of pliers which he waved to me in greeting.

In my humble opinion, the best poems embrace compassion, empathy and generosity. Now, here is your assignment: Write a poem that begins with “I don’t know.” (What don’t you know?) You may list several things or focus on one particular thing. Make the poem personal, honest and compassionate. Send it to me.