by James Hannon

Don’t think about the Holocaust.

No, really. Don’t.

Don’t think about
genocide,
slavery,
Hiroshima,
napalm.

Because if you do,
you’ll probably think too much,

(you know you!)

and when some nice lady says

Everything happens for a reason

you might say something.
And even if she nods and allows that

Yes, there are some mysteries

she’ll really just think you’re rude and self-important.

Here’s the thing: you will not be the angel of her epiphany.
You are not a guardian of the galaxy
And you’re certainly not a Time Lord.

What’s done is done.

And if you say this something at a party
you might not be invited to another.
You could become isolated and embittered
and miss out on the treats.

Now if you hear some nice fella say

It was a terrible accident but
God must have had something
special planned for me
because I survived
though my friend did not.

Do not
think about your lovely friend
who had a few mimosas at brunch
(as was her wont)
then drove off the Florida Turnpike
and into a tree.

Do not think about your friend
whose son died at five
after three years of cancer treatments.

God must not have had something
special planned for them.

And what would you say, really?
Show off with some Shakespeare?

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods
They kill us for their sport.

Discuss Voltaire?
Probe the theodicy dilemma?
Tell him about your friends?
Ask him whether God listens
to the prayers of a Jew?

No, it’s really better not to.


The title, “Go Along to Get Along,” comes from helpful advice that House Speaker Tip O’Neill gave to newcomers to the House of Representatives.


JAMES HANNON is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts where he accompanies adults and adolescents recovering from depression, disappointments, and illusions.  His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Soundings East, Zetetic, and other journals, and in Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets.  His book, The Year I Learned the Backstroke, was published by Aldrich Press in 2014.


Photo: “Christmas Wreath” by Nick