Friday’s Poetic Pause: “Ungrateful”

The annual expressions of gratitude from the U.S.’ Thanksgiving holiday now subsided, I share a poem I wrote yesterday about how hard it is at times to be genuinely grateful.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate enough to live rent-free, staying with friends and family. But that has also meant that I have been someone’s houseguest.

After I wrote this reflection, I wondered: Is there a parallel to be drawn with those at the receiving end of aid?

My first turkey (or was it just a big chicken?) Lilongwe, 2004



To ask, and have to ask.

To be at the mercy of

generosity, or obligation, or excess.

Let us not pretend

it is easy.

To receive with grace – thank and

thank –

and don’t acknowledge

the assault on dignity, on self-respect,

however small or hidden,

as you acknowledge the effort

and time and resources given for you.

You must keep them flowing.

Dependency demands a

constraint to your choices.

Of this, be reminded

with each offered, open palm.


Have some poems you’ve written or treasured that you’d like to share with fellow aid workers and do-gooders? Please send them my way at!


Related Posts

Friday’s Poetic Pause: “Easter Exultet” by James Broughton

Friday’s Poetic Pause: “Utopia” by Wislawa Szymborska

Listening to People on the Receiving End of Aid

Barefoot in Church

Coming Out of the Closet


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