I’m going to be brave this year. That’s what I told everyone the other day on my blog.

Brave. Yeah.

So my first act of bravery was to rewrite a poem I had been preparing for publication so that it was real. It was a nice poem before I rewrote it. But I wanted to go for authenticity. Power. My true voice. None of this “we” business to soften the blow, but “I” and “you.”

Then I read it after rewriting it. And I got scared, because it was no longer a “nice poem.” It was very good, and it was very honest. That’s when my brave really needed to kick in.

It hasn’t yet. I am still grinding the gears. See, this happens every time I write. Every single time. I read it and reread it to make sure it is not going to hurt anyone I love or offend anyone who might love me, or be provocative to anyone who I may not want to provoke. I don’t want to deal with the fall out of such authenticity.

So I prune and polish until what’s left feels soft and looks shiny and might make Hallmark happy but isn’t going to make so much as a ripple in the pond of what matters. Pretty as a kitten, but this cat does not bite.

I am working through the balance that bravery asks of me. What it comes down to is motivation. Blurting out words – any words that happen to be on the tip of my tongue – is not bravery. I’ve blurted out all kinds of nonsense when motivated by fear or anger. For me, there has to be a love catalyst to make it bravery and not simply rashness.

So I suppose my theme for 2014 is love. Real love. Perfect love that casts out fear. That’s what bravery must look like.


Kelly Belmonte is a published poet, blogger (, and management consultant with expertise in non-profit organizational development and youth mentoring. She currently serves on the board of directors for Exeter Fine Crafts in Exeter, New Hampshire. Her published book of poetry, Three Ways of Searching, is available through Finishing Line Press.

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