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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toys Breaking

They’ve been breaking all week long. To understand what I mean by that, one must understand the meaning of this:

"For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break."
These are the last lines of a poem by John Frederick Nims. It happens to be a poem I first encountered in a college poetry class some forty years ago. I was charmed from the gitgo. Enchanted by the wit and wry humor. It lodged inside me and stayed.

This poem has stayed with me because, beneath the clever, it speaks to a deep Truth: We love others, not for their perfections, not at all, but for their good hearts.

Four decades ago, as a mere stripling, I kinda sensed the Truth of it. Forty years later, I’ve lived it.

We love the loving heart and the kind soul. We revere the gentle and the generous for these are rare breeds. Rarely (ever?) do they come wrapped in manifest blessings, prowess or beauty. Rarely would a casual bystander describe them as “Perfect.”

But they are. Imperfect though they may be, beautifully flawed though they are, they are perfect in the Joy they bring to another.

* * *


My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before red apoplectic streetcars---
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease.
In traffic of wit expertly manoeuvre
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses---
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.

* * *

* * *


Blogger June Calender said...

The consolation of poetry is that it gives words and pictures to us we didn't know anyone else could speak or see. I'm glad you have a poem that says so much.

Mon Sep 26, 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Thank you for this Jonas.

Mon Sep 26, 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Marion said...

What an amazing poem. Poetry, to me, is bread, air, breath. Thank you for sharing this awesome poem.

Mon Sep 26, 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Thank goodness for the Truth of it, else no one could love me. I am reminded of my mom's friend with cancer and her loving husband. "Darling, you are the most beautiful bald woman I have ever seen." I aspire to this kind of give it.

That poem is a gift, warm and enveloping.

Mon Sep 26, 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

What a beautiful poem, Jonas. Thank you for sharing it, and for reminding us of the Truth of it.

Mon Sep 26, 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Mon Oct 03, 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...


Wed Oct 05, 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Glad to see that this poem appeals to others, too.

There are those who believe poetry is the highest form of literature. Count me among them.

Tue Oct 11, 07:18:00 PM  

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