The Sunday Poem: Barbara Byers... Things to Do

I was born to fundamentalist Christian cult parents who are white supremacists. I grew up in Denver and escaped to New Mexico in 1982. Justice, art and travel are the engines that drive me.
As a child, I was not nurtured but forced. As an adult, I oppose force and try to learn how to nurture myself and all the people around me.

Things to Do
(Notes to Self poems)

Be kind.
Watch your back
and be kind.
Be kind.
Be kind.

Make art and be kind.
Try to understand things.
Open your hands
and be kind.
Move gently
Remember who you love
and be most kind.

Cut your own hair
and be kind.

Look at the people.
Be kind.
Don’t be fooled,
Be kind.
Let yourself believe
and be kind.

Honor the living.
Remember the dead
and be kind.

Walk away from the greedy.
Manage to notice.
And always choose to be kind.

--Barbara Byers
Albuquerque, October 2008

Submissions for The Sunday Poem are welcome. Email

Views: 44

Tags: Byers, poetry

Comment by Margaret Randall on October 11, 2009 at 8:01am
Barbara, this is a perfect poem for these hard times. If we all took it to heart the world would be a better place. Bravo!
Comment by Tamra Hays on October 11, 2009 at 8:21am
I love the repetition of Be Kind. Have you ever seen the book (no longer in print) titled The Second Greatest Story Ever Told? God's second child, a daughter, returns to earth with the same message, Be Kind.
Comment by cc on October 11, 2009 at 9:15am
This is a poem that helps. Thank you for sharing, Barbara.
Comment by BARBARA BYERS on October 11, 2009 at 9:31am
Thank you cc. I believe all of our creations help. You know how it is, I know.
Comment by Barelas Babe on October 11, 2009 at 10:02am
I like the way you weave in self-care with the reminder to be kind. It is easier to be kind to others when you are first kind to yourself. Thank you for sharing your word thoughts.
Comment by cathyray on October 11, 2009 at 10:42am
Wow, Barbara, this poem is very moving. I really appreciated the way you have woven a complex, deep meaning with such few & simple words & phrases - as it should be. I am going to steal your description of "not nurtured but forced". It describes a lifetime in four words. It has been a lifelong struggle for me to learn that it was ok to nurture & love myself; to figure out even what that meant. I came to the conclusion long ago that only kindness matters.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on October 11, 2009 at 10:53am
I do love this poem--"cut your own hair" and be kind--quite mysterious about honesty in hair and hair cutting adn not hiding at all, not at all, who we are. Uncover adn be kind, dare to be kind, stop, drop, n roll be kind--you have the lovely message and thank you for sending it out to all of us. Children need food and clothes and school and shoes, but kindness must permeate everything or the child is cold, hungry, uneducated . . . I babble on. Were u at the Sunday Poet potluck? I am horrid with names and attention deficit . . .
Comment by BARBARA BYERS on October 11, 2009 at 11:00am
Yes, I was there, the one with no hair. I am better known as Margaret Randall's partner. Thanks for the comments. I am a teacher too and kindness is all I've got for middle school special ed in this system most days. The kids do well fed on kindness. As don't we all.
Comment by Barelas Babe on October 11, 2009 at 11:23am
Barbara - such wise words about teaching and kindness. And (not that this is necessary) also supported by the some of latest research - I just spent the past few days attending an incredible conference on education featuring the Dalai Lama that underscored the importance of kindness and compassion both as a teaching method and as shaping brain development.
Comment by BARBARA BYERS on October 11, 2009 at 11:33am
Why, thank you, Brelas. It totally is what we know.
Interesting how "research" has to prove what we understand.


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