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Week 5 “Before you know what kindness really is…”

Updated: May 9, 2020

Poems written by Untold Stories poets in response to the prompt “Before you know what kindness really is…” from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Kindness.


-Jayanthi Reddy

My first year as a teacher, 

I got my ass handed to me daily

by so-called young impressionable minds.

As the bell would ring, 

students would filter out of class

and every now and then 

one of them would sense my despair

and tell me a joke

as I fought back tears.

Likely unknowing that their kindness

still makes me smile 

each offering 

shows what is possible.


Before You Know What Kindness Is

-Zainab Chaaban

Before you know what kindness is, you want for the other what you want for yourself. It is easy to lean towards famous figures, popular people, tourist attractions. What if instead of going to the famous people, we lean to the least known. The person hiding from it all. The tiny village that does not attract many and give attention to their city. Appreciate the smallest things. Kindness is that knot in your heart that you go to try to untie it.

If I help this large corporation, they in return can help me right back. If I help this orphan scrambling for his/her next meal, and leave empty handed...I can untie the knot. Maybe loosen it a little so it's easier to breath. Kindness is unseen, unheard, unfelt....until you step in. 


Kiss and Tell

-Leseliey Rose

Breathe the dust

Of things and time

Fallen apart and away

Let it inflame your airways

Wail under mourning suns

Tears with no sounds

Stay present, persist

Surrender and kiss

Witness the battle

Between the victim and the savior inside

Both losing

No victory flags to fly

Peace not still

Abide in the grace

Of tender winds

Alone and engulfed

Birth fire

From the bowels

Of your belly

By the light of

majestic moons

Bathe in the warmth

Of pink salt rains

And live

To tell

The story


Faithful Humility

-Erika Murcia

Holding hands as we

formed a circle to pray

so the bombing

in the mountains

in front of

our home

would be stopped

Walking barefoot to school

while forming a fun train

so the feeling of fear 

in our bodies

our home 

would be released

Hugging tightly my kindergarten peers and teachers

while crying inside our roofless classroom

so the gun shooting


our home

would have been only dreamed 

Eating raw food harvested 

in our garden

so the traumatizing impacts 

of hunger 

in our guts/stomach

our home

would be healed

Surviving our community's exodus

in a foreign country

so that our storytelling 

of collective suffering

in our villages

honored 75,000 plus Brown human bodies slaughtered they

our home

they would be remembered and mourned  


Tío Jorge

-Julie Quiroz

Mi tío Jorge

was the shortest man I’d ever seen

so close to our kid size

his brown wool sweater

could have fit me.

Never grown-up busy

he moved quietly

the way moss grows

impervious to traffic

at the speed

of one moment.

Tío Jorge was kind

like he knew cruel,




like that was all

we had.

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