For the Sake of Strangers-Poem and Music

For the Sake of Strangers

by Dorianne Laux

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a retarded child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

Here’s some commentary on Laux’s poem from Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime by Roger Houdsen:

“The whole world is speaking, if only we can listen, even for a moment. The whole world is trying always to find us, to rescue us from ourselves, from our own self-absorption; from the despair that lives in everything and everyone. From this temptation to step off the edge and fall weightless, way from the world.

It is not empathy that Laux is seeking in this poem, it is immersion. She is asking us to immerse ourselves in the full experience of our humanity.”

To me, few songs convey the depth of our common bonds and our common humanity as does “Betty’s Diner” by the amazing singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer.(Click arrow to listen)

You can find this song on her album Betty’s Diner: the Best of Carrie Newcomer. I can’t recommend her music enough for the depth of its vision and its humanity.

You can buy “Betty’s Diner” at iTunes:


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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

10 Responses to “For the Sake of Strangers-Poem and Music”

  1. Hi Steve,
    This is my first visit to your world. A friend pointed me to your post about Buddhism and Romanticism, which I liked enough to follow the thread to more browsing….to here. Seeing Carrie Newcomer (a wonder) here made me say”Kindred Spirit!”

    Thanks for your wonderful blogs — they made me very happy (when they didn’t make me sad).

    With Metta for you and all,

    • Hello Brenda. What a sweet note; I love it when I meet people who share common loves and interests. Dear Carrie’s music has been a healing influence in my life almost since the beginning of her career, and I love to be able to let other people know about her and point them to where they can buy her amazing music.

      I’m glad that great Romanticism article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu caught you interest so I could share more with you. 🙂

      Thanks again for visiting and your kind words,


  2. I used the quote and have had appreciative feedback on it. What I’d really like to do is reproduce the poem by Dorianne Laux as a note, so that others might enjoy it. Is it ok to do this? Many thanks for your time. With warm metta, Maureen

    • Hey Maureen! Feel free to use the whole poem; just give full attribution, source, and as a courtesy, and to help the author, I’d suggest linking the title to Amazon, as I did, so that people can click on the title of the book and be directed there.

      Glad to hear of the good response. Another indication of how we are joined in our common humanity.

      With all well wishes,


  3. This was a beautiful and heart-rending post by Metta Refuge. Thank you so much. I’d like to use the quote that begins “The whole world is speaking ….” and ends “..the despair that lives in everything and everyone.” on my fb page. If you are ok about this, who do I credit – you or Roger Houdsen (via Metta Refuge)? Thanks again, Steven. ♥

    • Thank you, Maureen. Quick answer – please credit Roger Houdsen and his collection of poem…no need to mention Metta Refuge, unless you wish to in some larger context.

      With warm metta,

  4. very lovely. immersion into the heart of humanity. it reveals the best of who we are —our ever present goodness that can rise up and bless others for simply being who they are too.

    with lovingkindness, be well

    • Thank you, Jan, for stopping by and for your beautiful and insightful comment. When I get a chance, I’ll have to stop by your beautiful blog; even a quick peek was most welcoming. 🙂

      With loving-kindnesss, and all well wishes,


  5. Nice. Went straight to my heart.


    michael j

    • Hey, beloved brother who was there at the birth of my blog! Thanks for your comment.

      It sometimes, now, seems so long ago that I found your blog and a new friend, when I was starting up Metta Refuge. And yet the actual time is just over a year and a half. How time flies!

      Thanks for your friendship and your constancy, and for the big, big heart you bring to your sharing with the world.

      With great affection,

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