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Self Succor

Spring 2014 - Vol. 56, No. 2


This poem appears in the Spring 2014 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.


Despair at being oneself is utmost sin,
so Kierkegaard the existentialisthas said, meaning a person must resist
the wish to live inside another skin,
have bigger breasts or brain or stronger chin,
or better pay or shorter shopping list.
The heart must be its own apologist,
and gratitude a daily discipline.
All clay is made to molder into dust;
the heart’s designed for loving all that’s clay,
and clay that crumbles can be hard to trust.
The mind must face its want without dismay
and learn to see the self with heaven’s eye
whatever gifts in others multiply.


Joyce S. Brown is a poet who lives in Baltimore. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Yankee, the Tennessee Quarterly, the Christian Science Monitor, the American Scholar, the Journal of Medical Humanities, Commonweal, the Maryland Poetry Review, Potomac Review, and other journals. For ten years she was a teacher of fiction and poetry writing in the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars.