How To Write Poetry as Alchemy To Heal Yourself and Our World


First, you go inside

like taking your pulse

Put a finger to your heart

and ask:

What would you have me

know, today?

Then wait, patient

as the sky

for your first response.

They’ll come in layers,

the whispers of your heart

All you need to do is

be still.

“I am shy,” she might say.

“I’m scared, sleepy, full of fear.”

Keep listening.

Ask what’s fueling the fear.

“So many guns,

so much agony.

How does a person

with a heart

live in the world

today and not give up?”

Look close. Choose one.

The one gnawing at the surface,

crawling out of its hole

Take its hand, say hello,

welcome it into your lap.

“This one is a gun

pointed at the face

of a nine year old girl

in my city

She died in a driveby shooting

last week

My heart broke but there was

no time to mourn

Every day every hour

the atrocities continue

My inbox screams

for attention

All the ways the world

is falling apart

Who has time for one child?

One nine year old black girl

sitting in a car

waiting for her mother

when the crossfire

caught her life?”

Too much sorrow

for one heart to hold.

You hold it.

This doesn’t replace the phone calls,

the letters, the legislation,

but you know, studies prove

over and over—meditation

lowers the rate of violence

prayer changes the fabric

of the consciousness of the world

Your words become a living meditation

A talking stick of prayer

A guardian of light

to wrap around the body of the child

who was shot

at the corner drugstore

and will never be held

in her mother’s arms


If we take the time

to honor the losses

that trouble the waters

of our own hearts

If we who write

who dare to feel

who are vulnerable

and sensitive

to the point where it hurts

to watch the news

If we can’t metabolize the heartbreak we witness

and turn it into love

once again—

who will?

The child caught

by the bullet—

she was—is—loved.

The children ripped

from their parents’ arms

They were—are—loved.

Love is still the answer

But it’s so hard to see

when your heart is clouded with

sorrow, rage, terror

So keep coming to the page

as a way of cleansing your heart

This is how we’ll do our part

to heal our world

One poem

one sorrow

one heartbreak

at a time.

You choose the one calling to your heart

Write it down, so your words

become the alchemy that

turns it back to love

I’ll choose the one that calls to mine

What if this is the assignment we were given

before the world was born?

To come to this planet

at this moment of explosive violence

and be the warriors on the front line

To articulate every sorrow

one at a time

and turn it back

into love?