Selling the World to Children: Not for the Faint of Heart

The poem “Good Bones” was included in the “Best of 2017” series last year, but author Maggie Smith had the foresight to make it ring true no matter what the year.

Therefore, as we approach the blessed end to 2018, we can count it a “best” again if we wish. After all, the word “best” is up for grabs, yours to throw around with no regard for lamps and other fragile items in the room as much as mine. The poem originally appeared in Waxwing:


“Good Bones”
by Maggie Smith

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.


I love the ending. That false note of hope sung loud and proud in a key of despair. So true. So ring out the old and ring in the new.

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