6 Poems to Ground You

In the face of endless advertisements and increasing pressure to buy, buy, buy, it can be hard to stay focused on what makes the holidays truly special. While material objects are fun to give and receive, we certainly don’t want them to take center stage. To help us stay focused on the here and now (despite all the noise) we’ve picked out six poems to help keep you grounded and centered. 


Wind, Water, Stone” by Octavio Paz

Calming and stoic, this poem grants readers a sense of stillness in a world full of chaos. The speaker observes how wind, water, and stone interact with each other within nature, yet maintain their separation as elements of the earth. Take a few moments to observe the world around you. What elements of nature might you pause and reconnect with? 


Dear Babylon,” by Harmony Holiday

Prizewinning poet and choreographer Harmony Holiday is known for her chaotic and mesmerizing poetic style. Her poem “Dear Babylon” was published in the October 2017 issue of Poetry magazine. The poem captures the violent tug often felt between material desires and the search for a deeper, more personal connection with the world. While this internal conflict is ever-present in the modern world, the holiday season has the potential to make it even stronger. 


Confessions of a Recycled Shopping Bag” by John Yau

Poet, critic, and curator John Yau is known for his playful poetic style. His poem “Confessions of a Recycled Shopping Bag” comes from his 2012 poetry collection, Further Adventures in Monochrome. This simple yet imaginative poem reenvisions the many lives a piece of plastic may endure before becoming a shopping bag. While the holidays are often a time of excess, it’s important to keep in mind the footprint we will leave behind through the decisions we make today. 


Present Light” by Charles Ghigna

This short and sweet poem is a beautiful reminder that money can’t buy everything. From his 1999 collection, Love Poems, “Present Light” describes the burning desire to give the world to someone you love. While extravagant and expensive gifts are nice gestures, don’t feel pressured to beak the bank to show your love. Remember to find other ways to show you care, like phone calls, heartfelt letters, or even handmade crafts and treats. 


Money” by Philip Larkin

A slightly more on-the-nose observation of the sway money can have over us comes from Philip Larkin in the poem “Money.” In it, the speaker laments over the pressures of keeping up with the Joneses, the temptation to spend frivolously, and the power money has to corrupt society. If you like Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, you’ll love this poem, too. 


Here and Now” by Peter Balakian

From Peter Balakian’s 2015 collection Ozone Journal comes the poem “Here and Now.” Vivid and heart-stoppingly sensory, this poem is a wonderful example of being present. With the transcendentalist flair of Walt Whitman, the speaker in this poem feels every gust of wind, hears every broken branch, and absorbs the memories and history of the land so deeply that his consciousness nearly dissolves into it. Practicing mindfulness and allowing yourself to be fully present and aware of the here and now can even help you better appreciate time spent with loved ones.