“Life: A to Z”

A prose poem in response to the following prompt:

Achievement is not the child of conquest
Bravery is not the brother of aggression
Courage is not the spouse of violence.

Do not underestimate the mundane
Experience the miracle of breathing
Feel the breaths come and go.

Getting even—becoming an account in need of balance
Hurting those who hurt you
Injuring those who injure you, is never

Kings are often miserable
Lords just as sad, but
Maids might smile sincerely.

Narcissism drowns people in themselves.
Obsession drowns them in others
Paranoia drowns them in delusions about themselves and others.

Quiet when listening
Respectful when speaking
Silent when enraged.

Termites bring down houses
Unseen amoeba destroy humans
Vices bury heroes
Water erodes mountains.

Xenophobia freezes hearts to stone
Young smiles gently melt them to soothing liquid
Zealotry boils hearts, leaving a dry pot.


I planned to write this in series of 3, but I noticed too late that I had left two letters out…I ended up adding those two to existing sets of 3.


P.S. This is a first draft. I welcome feedback.


9 thoughts on ““Life: A to Z”

  1. Indah Susanti

    I love it, I can not decide which paragraph that I like most – it is between the “Justice” and “Narcissism-Obsession-Paranoia”.. thanks for sharing this! Have a great day!


  2. mistermuse

    Love it, but if you don’t mind a very minor quibble, I’d leave the word “only” out of the last line. As a general rule, I believe that when you can make a point just as effectively – if not more so – with fewer words, brevity rules!


  3. mbarkersimpson

    Sensational – I can’t think of another adjective to describe it (all synonyms would work 🙂 Narcissism drowns people in themselves – that’s genius – there are so many layers my head is spinning!


    1. paulwhitberg Post author

      Thank you so much! Support from people like you is gradually encouraging me to post more heartfelt, sincere work. I think that many humorous writers, including me, tend to be intentionally ridiculous because we are afraid that exposing our hearts might mean exposing ourselves to ridicule.


      1. mbarkersimpson

        So true – we have pretty solid defence mechanisms don’t we? Sometimes they can prevent us from being able to truly shine. Your readers will respond to the sincerity in your writing because you have true passion and a skill that you should never hide 🙂


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