The Good Grief – Kathleen Kelley

The good grief is loyal, stays put.
It does what it’s told,
waits its turn, doesn’t
make a fuss.

The good grief doesn’t beg,
but tucks itself into your bones,
burrows into your spleen
where it means to protect you.

The good grief makes no claim.
It makes itself small instead, lies still
in soft tissue, beyond the reach of
the prodigal breath, the callow heart.

Beware the grief that seems
to disappear, the one that you refuse,
the grief you bury, unexamined.
It doesn’t make a sound.


Kathleen M. Kelley is a poet, essayist, and writing coach. In 2010, her chapbook The Waiting Room received the Philbrick Poetry Award, judged by Marge Piercy. In 2008 she received the Anderbo Poetry prize.

Her work has been published in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Persimmon Tree, The Sun, Earth’s Daughters, Peregrine, Perigee, The Green Fuse, Evergreen Chronicles, and Mediphores. It also appears in View from the Bed and The Patient who Changed my Life. Cancer Pages, a writing/support group she facilitated as an oncology social worker, was featured on public radio.

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