From Ted Kooser, a former poet laureate of the United States, who syndicates a poem of the week. This was sent a couple of weeks ago, but I can’t remember when specifically. Enjoy . . . —J.S.

American Life in Poetry: Column 141


Life becomes more complicated every day, and each of us can control only so much of what happens. As for the rest? Poet Thomas R. Smith of Wisconsin offers some practical advice.


    It’s like so many other things in life

    to which you must say no or yes.

    So you take your car to the new mechanic.

    Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

    The package left with the disreputable-looking

    clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,

    the envelope passed by dozens of strangers–

    all show up at their intended destinations.

    The theft that could have happened doesn’t.

    Wind finally gets where it was going

    through the snowy trees, and the river, even

    when frozen, arrives at the right place.

    And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life

    is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2003 by Thomas R. Smith. Reprinted from “Waking before Dawn,” Thomas R. Smith, Red Dragonfly Press, 2007, by permission of the author.