Monthly Archives: October 2017

NVC: Praise, compliments and gratitude

Marshall Rosenberg considered praise & compliments to be as violent as criticism & insults. Instead, he encourages us to express gratitude. Praise & compliments are often used to manipulate, to reward compliance, just as insults & criticism are used to punish non-compliance. Both “positive” and “negative” feedback of this kind perpetuate dominance cultures.

Poem: Lament for my village

I’ve been doing a course with the Poetry School, Poetry & Ritual. This exercise is to write a lament, a grief poem. This is mine:

Lament for my village

He stares
Into an abyss
A view no one should bear alone
A new portrait
Of a family
Numb for a moment
Then the shock
Of this thought
She is gone

It takes a village
To accompany a dying
It takes a village
To contain a grieving

The village is here
Grief is welcome here
Finds its voice here
A beautiful, precious howl
Chases birds from the trees

Forty pairs of eyes
Almost as sad as his
Forty pairs of hands
Holding as he thrashes

And I remember
We once lived this way
Now we live alone
Grieved this way
Now we grieve alone
Praised this way
Now we praise alone
And I weep
For the village
I expected
And did not receive

Copyright © 2017, Mike Wilson

Poem: Knock


I knock on your bedroom door
Tell you “I’m going to light fresh incense”
You do not answer

I knock on your bedroom door
Tell you “Good morning”
You do not answer

I knock on your bedroom door
Tell you “Your mother will be here soon”
You do not answer

I knock on your bedroom door
Tell you “Here are the flowers a neighbour left”
You do not answer

A friend visits
She is anxious
I tell her you look beautiful
She does not knock
She does not see beauty

I knock on your bedroom door
I do not speak
You do not answer

No one has revealed as much as you

Some thoughts:

This is a couple of lines shorter than the first version. I wanted the interruption of a visitor to stand apart from the rest of the poem. I’m wanting to maintain a sense of intimacy between the narrator and the person who doesn’t speak, an intimacy which excludes others.

I haven’t used italics to make a stanza stand apart from the others before. The inspiration came from reading another student’s poem on a course I’m doing with The Poetry School. I like the effect and expect I’ll use it again.

I hadn’t realised how clearly my resentment at the visitor came through. I think I’ve toned down or even removed that.

I have written before about the experience that inspired this poem. A poem from June last year may shed some light.


I stand beside my friend, bathed now and wearing a favourite dress, laid on her bed, surrounded by flowers, profoundly still. Without a sound, I hear her gift: “Life is precious”. But I know this already. “No”, she says, silent, insistent, “it’s far more precious than that”. My heart is open and her lesson lands without resistance. Watching her shocking stillness, I understand. Life is precious. “And another thing; you could be a lot more gentle”. I know this is true. But how will I become more gentle? Silence. Stillness. Incomprehensible stillness.

And another from earlier this year:


I said I would be here for this if you wanted me,
wouldn’t beg you to stay a moment longer than you chose.
You smiled, told me “you know what I want”.
So here I am now, just as I promised.
This isn’t what I expected.
What, exactly, has changed?
I thank your ancestors, ask them to collect you.
I trust they did.

Copyright © 2016-2017, Mike Wilson