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The Cold Within - a poem by James Patrick Kinney

Updated on December 18, 2011

I read this poem, by James Patrick Kinney, in the Dear Abby column of the Naples Daily News today and wanted to share it with others, especially during this holiday season. It is a prime example of how we injure and deprive ourselves because of our own silly prejudices, resentments and disappointments. In this season of giving, are we truly giving of ourselves unselfishly, or are we harboring resentments and disappointments of which we can't let go? Are we enjoying those around us or are we simply tolerating others that we really envy and despise? How we treat others and ourselves is what this holiday season is all about. Will it be a Merry or Unmerry Christmas this year? It is our choice.

When I read this poem it reinforced the idea that we create our own prisons and create our own "deaths." It is in how we treat the world and treat ourselves that determines whether we live a fulfilling life or one that is meaninless and foolish. Although, I say I live in "paradise" here in Naples, Florida, it is a life of meaning for me and those around me. I am active in the community, I try to give back by "singing for scholarships," and I work so as not to forget the daily toil of others. So, I am able to look at my face in the mirror each morning and not shy away or cast my eyes down.

If we can give to others and understand other's daily life, we can grow and live in harmony with others. Peace this holiday season comes from each one of us, not just with the end of "wars" such as the Iraq War, although the end of this war goes a long way in helping to reach peace in that area of the world. This poem illustrates how each one of us has the opportunity at sometime in life to unselfishly give of ourselves and make a definite choice as to a peaceful or unpeaceful holiday season. Each one of us has the opportunity sometime during our lifetime to choose "life" instead of "death."


Six humans trapped in happenstance

In dark and bitter cold,

Each one possessed a stick of wood,

Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

The first woman held hers back,

For of the faces around the fire,

She noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way

Saw not one of his church,

And couldn't bring himself to give

The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes

He gave his coat a hitch,

Why should his log be put to use,

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store,

And how to keep what he had earned,

From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge

As the fire passed from sight,

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

Did naught except for gain,

Giving only to those who gave,

Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands

Was proof of human sin,

They didn't die from the cold without,

They died from the cold within.

by James Patrick Kinney


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  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    4 years ago from Taos, NM

    sweetpikez: Thank you for reading this poem. I think the message of the poem is so important and it is why so many different people in our society have such a problem with others. These are the stereotypes each one sees instead of connecting and really knowing others in society. And, it seems to be getting worse as the years go on instead of better.

  • sweetpikez profile image

    Pinky de Garcia 

    4 years ago

    Dear suzettenaples,

    Thanks for sharing this poem.This is very inspiring. Voted up and beautiful.

    Have a great holiday,


  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    Pamela: Thank you so much for reading this poem. I think there is a strong message here of no one sharing their wood that the author is trying to make. They died from frozen hearts, not from the outside cold. It is a shame they couldn't keep the fire going.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    rebeccamealey: Thanks so much for reading this. I think it is well said for this time of the year especially, although anytime of the year is good to hear this message. Thanks so much for your comments. Most appreciated.

  • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

    Pamela Dapples 

    5 years ago from Just Arizona Now

    I was hoping there would be one of them, at least, that shared their bit of wood for the fire -- something hopeful, but no, not one. Thanks for sharing this two years ago. Voting up and awesome.

  • rebeccamealey profile image

    Rebecca Mealey 

    5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

    This is definitely a powerful poem. Thanks for.sharing it.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    RTalloni: Thank you so much for reading and your scripture reading from John. Yes, this poem speaks to all humanity this holiday season. May we all understand the message of this poem!

  • RTalloni profile image


    5 years ago from the short journey

    This speaks so clearly of the needy human condition and this is a powerful time of year to come across it. Because He knew our condition, Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 1o:10)! Thank you for sharing this poem.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    Thank you Jamie for reading this and I have a feeling you understand the lesson here!

  • jhamann profile image

    Jamie Lee Hamann 

    5 years ago from Reno NV

    Thank you for this wonderful poem. Jamie

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Pamlia: Thank you and I'm glad you were touched by this. It is an incredible poem!

  • Pamlia Wall profile image

    Pamlia Wall 

    6 years ago from Ararat North Carolina


    This is a truly inspirational poem. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. There is no way anyone can read this one and not be touched.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Eiddwen: Thanks so much for reading and leaving such a kind comment. I wish we all would treat others with simple kindness; I know it is a cruel world out there, but just simple kindness would go a long way in bettering this world. It is so much easier to be kind than to have to get the energy up to be cold and hard. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Great words!! Oh yes I really enjoyed it and have to award my 'up up and away!!!'

    Take care and enjoy your day.


  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Glad you liked it, Cresentmoon. I hope it makes many think about life in this holiday season. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Cresentmoon2007 profile image


    7 years ago from Caledonia, MI

    Suzzette, thank you for sharing this. It was very lovely. Voted up. It is def. the right time to share a poem like this.


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