The poem we need right now: “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

by Joey deVilla on October 28, 2018

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.

Maggie Smith’s poem, Good Bones, was published in 2016, three days after the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. It has since become the poetic summary of that year, and may end up doing the same for 2018, what with everything that’s been happening.

Still, I choose to go by the last two lines of the poem:

This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

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