Do Not Despair


I’m guessing that many of you may feel like I do a lot these days when you look at the news—both angry yet impotent to do much of anything significant about the world’s ills. It’s one of the problems of our age, that our sphere of knowledge dwarfs our sphere of impact. In these moments I often find myself “doomscrolling”, thumbing through one bad thing after another on the Internet until I’m in a bad mood.

On one such day recently I just had to ditch my phone and go for a walk in the woods. This poem emerged mostly as a message to myself, but I hope it meets you where you are too.

Dear you,
yes you,
scrolling past this post,
on your way,
to another dose of despair.
Lift up your eyes,
look out your window
at the

Leave your smartphones
and smartwatches behind
and go.

Lift up the limbs that you’ve been given
to the sun,
breathe in the oxygen,
the trees have so lovingly made 
for you,
see and smell the blossoms
they have bloomed
for you.

If you can,
hold the life of a small creature
in your hands,
and feel its tiny life and beating heart,
so much like your own,
both of you so small in this vast world.

You are small, yes
but you are not
You can smile at another,
you can plant seeds in earth,
you can love your friends
and your family,
you can speak a kind word,
you can give a few dollars
to a good cause,

you can even,
write a poem.

Shut out the voices 
of the megalomaniacs
making money off your fear,
feasting on your paralyzed flesh
like a pack of crazed hyenas.

Do not despair,

do not give up,

do not give in,

but stand in your small earthen self

and be.

This poem was originally posted on Chris Yokel’s Substack Beauty Is Truth

Chris is an Associate Professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and is an arts and culture writer whose works have appeared in publications such as Tweetspeak Poetry, The Curator, The Molehill, and The Rabbit Room. Chris is also the author of several books of poetry, including his latest collection Winter Poems. In 2018 he helped co-found The Poetry Pub, an online community for poets. He enjoys walking in the woods, visiting coffee shops, and poking through used bookstores with his wife Jen. You can read more of his writing at

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