Poetry Sunday: Bless Their Hearts by Richard Newman

"Bless his/her heart!" 

That's an observation that one hears not infrequently in the South and those of us who grew up with it are well aware that quite often it means exactly the opposite. Richard Newman understands.  

Bless Their Hearts

by Richard Newman

At Steak ‘n Shake I learned that if you add
“Bless their hearts” after their names, you can say
whatever you want about them and it’s OK.
My son, bless his heart, is an idiot,
she said. He rents storage space for his kids’
toys—they’re only one and three years old!
I said, my father, bless his heart, has turned
into a sentimental old fool. He gets
weepy when he hears my daughter’s greeting
on our voice mail.
Before our Steakburgers came
someone else blessed her office mate’s heart,
then, as an afterthought, the jealous hearts
of the entire anthropology department.
We bestowed blessings on many a heart
that day. I even blessed my ex-wife’s heart.
Our waiter, bless his heart, would not be getting
much tip, for which, no doubt, he’d bless our hearts.
In a week it would be Thanksgiving,
and we would each sit with our respective
families, counting our blessings and blessing
the hearts of family members as only family
does best. Oh, bless us all, yes, bless us, please
bless us and bless our crummy little hearts.


  1. I love this, Richard Newman, bless your heart.

    1. And bless your heart, David. (In this case, I mean it!)

  2. From my years of living in the South, I certainly remember this expression. I have the broadest smile on my face right now!

    1. I'm glad I could give you that memory today, Alana.

  3. :D Thanks for the laugh! What a great poem.

    1. It perfectly delineates the meaning of the phrase!


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