“The Poem to End All Cruelty”

The Poem to End All Cruelty

By John Kaufman

 

For many years she wanted to write a poem
To end all cruelty. But always she failed to start
Or finish because she thought: Who am I
To try to change what many holy people
Failed to do? And how could one poem

Accomplish what entire books
Said to be written by God or saints or prophets
Had not done? But one day she started
To write and could not stop until the lines,
As if dictated, appeared: a poem she could
Not comprehend completely, but seemed
To be some formula, a kind of spell
That when recited erased her fears and joined
Everything together so that even the most
Vicious acts were easy to forgive,
Even when she imagined herself the victim.
And then she was distracted by the phone.

After the call, she looked at the poem again.
Whatever she thought she’d written there was gone.

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