How to Be Happy

The First Rule

"Thumbing His Nose" -- Kent Grosswiler

“Thumbing His Nose” — Kent Grosswiler

Do not look to the old, red porch
of your childhood for solace;
you’ll only be reminded
of the splinters and bad luck
you couldn’t tweeze out.


Are you tempted to call home
and plead for better memories?
(Not even your friends will pick up
the phone. They’re as dependable
as the car that sputters to a stop
a few miles from the dealer.)

The Second Rule

Do not read advice columns
about sex, love, and battling
depression; you won’t find
answers and God sand-
wiched between the pages
of glossy magazines.


Whatever else you do, refrain
from placing all your hope
in the little, unabashed bird
who sings each morning
outside your window.

The Third Rule

No, do not rest your head on your
lover’s broad shoulders, sigh,
and think I am content,
for in that instant, he’ll shrug
you off as an autumn maple
shivers away its leaves.


That little bird was eaten
by your neighbor’s cat last week.
You buried its sad skeleton
in a cardboard shoebox
beneath the pink hydrangeas
in your backyard.