I think I can answer this:

Every morning I receive a poem from The Writers Almanac, every morning a gift for free – unbelievable, isn’t it?!

Reading today’s poem I was not sure whether to laugh or cry – actually I think this poem, and my response to it, can be taken as an epigram of what art & life is all about.


by Joseph Mills

On the Interstate, my daughter tells me
she only has two questions. I’m relieved
because she usually has two hundred.
I say, Okay, let’s have them, and she asks,
What was there before there was anything?
Stupidly, I think I can answer this:
There was grass, forests, fields, meadows, rivers.
She stops me. No, Daddy. I mean before
there was anything at all, what was there?
I say that I don’t know, so then she asks,
Where do we go when we die? I tell her
I don’t know the answer to this either.
She looks out the side, and I look forward,
then she asks if we can have some music.

“Questions” by Joseph Mills from The Miraculous Turning. © Press 53, 2014.

Joseph Mills has degrees in literature from the University of Chicago (B.A.), the University of New Mexico (M.A.), and the University of California-Davis (Ph.D).  As he was working on his third one, his mother asked, “Don’t you know that stuff yet?”

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Wow! What a great one! Thanks.

  2. earthstills says:

    Indeed – how fortunate in the age where everything is commercialized, that we can receive such ‘gifts’. And as I say that, I feel a pang, since somewhere, someone is pouring his time and soul into words, for me to ‘have’ and ‘enjoy’ – yet he also has to eat in order to write some more. Always the dilemma with artists and the ‘value’ of their contribution to society, don’t you think?

    1. Sigrun says:

      I understand your concerns, but my own experience is that these “gifts” makes me read more, buy more books, and maintain an on-going cultural discussion on art. I don’t think it is possible for any poet to make a living from “pure” poetry in a capitalist society, it’s a shame – but even so; sadly true.

  3. What a lovely, quiet poem–with such a ‘deep’ aspect to it!

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