Kexin Di 2018.jpeg!Large
How to breathe
by Patrick T. Reardon

Accept air in.
Process it. Expel it.

Accept bliss and ache,
random acts of existence.

Accept other voices
or don’t listen.

Accept the flower and dog shit
or close your eyes.

Accept a journey
that starts and ends.

Accept the gamble
of waking up.

Accept limits.
Accept freedom.
Accept gravity.
Accept fragility.
Accept the cloud of unknowing.

Accept unscheduled beauty.

Accept your own sins.

Accept confused alarms,
bad intent,
the chafing of coupling.

Accept the communion of saints,
the quick and the dead,
the mob, the family, the dance.

Accept another’s fingerprint.
Accept the risk of reaching.

Accept alone.

Accept the blinding white beyond.

PAINTING: Breath by Kexin Di (2018).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Breathing, it seems to me, is a synonym for living. So what does that entail? That’s what I sought to express in the poem. When I was done, I noticed that my repetition of the word “accept” indicated something of which I hadn’t been aware as I wrote it. It would seem that, for me, at least, breathing/living has a lot to do with accepting what can’t be controlled or changed.

Patrick T. Reardon.for Facebook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of nine books, including The Loop: The “L” Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago; the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in Burningwood Literary Journal, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Hey I’m Alive, Meat for Tea, Silver Birch Press, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, and U.S. Catholic. His tenth and eleventh books are forthcoming: Puddin: The Autobiography of a Baby, a Memoir in Prose Poems (2021, Third World Press) and Darkness on the face of the water (2022, Kelsay Books)His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at