The Little Book of Cheerful Thoughts

by Jeffrey Harrison

Small enough to fit  
in your shirt pocket 
so you could take it out 
in a moment of distress 
to ingest a happy  
maxim or just stare 
a while at its orange 
and yellow cover 
(so cheerful in itself 
you need go no further), 
this little booklet 
wouldn’t stop a bullet  
aimed at your heart 

and seems a flimsy  
shield against despair, 
whatever its contents. 
But there it is 
by the cash register, 
so I pick it up 
as I wait in line and 
come to a sentence 
saying there are few 
things that can’t be  
cured by a hot bath 
above the name  
Sylvia Plath. 

I rest my case, 
placing the booklet 
back by its petite 
companions Sweet Nothings
and Simple Wisdom… 
but not The Book of Sorrows
a multivolume set 
like the old Britannica 
that each of us receives 
in installments 
of unpredictable 
heft and frequency 
over a lifetime. 

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