Yes by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.


It could happen any time, says Stafford. And it does happen, more and more it seems – the floods, wild storms, uncontrollable fires, that bring destruction to our world. It could happen, as we all know, and yet, as the poet quietly points out, so could sunshine, love, salvation.

It really could be that these necessary things also happen. That’s why we wake / and look out, because if we are paying attention, we can notice that there is light, not only darkness. No guarantees he tells us, but possibilities if we look for them.

The last stanza of this deceptively short poem assures us there are some bonuses which can happen at any time, especially like right now. Look around you, stay awake to ensure you notice the beauty, to recognize what saves us – birdsong, trees greening, small acts of kindness. All the ways we can say Yes to this world.

15 thoughts on “Yes by William Stafford

  1. This poem reminds me of a simple coping strategy recommended by my counselor. “If you’re going to let your mind go to worst case scenarios, you owe it to yourself to also explore the best case scenarios.” I love your last few lines of interpretation – a beautiful way to live.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel like this poem was put in my path at the perfect time. As intrusive thoughts (likely driven by too much social media) and anxiety triggers loom, this poem reminds us that there is always light if we choose to look for it.


    • It delights me to hear when a poem arrives at just the perfect time. And I believe we all need reminders that there is always light if we choose to look for it. Thank you, Janice


  3. Yes, it could happen any time. But what a beautiful reminder that it is not only darkness that can happen any time, it is also the light, if only we look. I will try harder to look for the light.


  4. Wow! How powerful and relevant Jan – realizing too such contrasts happen simultaneously which in itself is dizzying – thanks for your sharing ❤️


  5. I keep coming back to this, and it’s almost Wednesday again!
    I sought out and found what I thought was a joyous practice, but it ended in anxiety. Disappointing, but it only means I have to rethink how I am to attain that joy. ugh. So much work. Stealth work.

    Love you, Jan. Thank you for continuing to make me think.


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