Blessed be the suckers and losers

poem is on dumpster



by Lucinda Williams


We were blessed by the minister

Who practiced what he preached

We were blessed by the poor man

Who said heaven is within reach

We were blessed by the girl selling roses

Who showed us how to live

We were blessed by the neglected child

Who knew how to forgive


We were blessed by the battered woman

Who didn’t seek revenge

We were blessed by the warrior

Who didn’t need to win

We were blessed by the blind man

Who could see for miles and miles

We were blessed by the fighter

Who didn’t fight for the prize


We were blessed the mother

Who gave up the child

We were blessed by the soldier

Who gave up his life

We were blessed by the teacher

Who didn’t have a degree

We were blessed by the prisoner

Who knew how to be free


We were blessed

Yeah, we were blessed


We were blessed by the mystic

Who turned water into wine

We were blessed by the watchmaker

Who gave up his time

We were blessed by the wounded man

Who felt no pain

By the wayfaring stranger

Who knew our names


We were blessed by the homeless man

Who showed us the way home

We were blessed by the hungry man

Who filled us with love

By the little innocent baby

Who taught us the truth

We were blessed by the forlorn

Forsaken and abused


We were blessed

Yeah, we were blessed

Mmm, we were blessed

Yeah, we were blessed

We were blessed



This is a song, not a poem, so before we go any further, listen. Listen to Lucinda, especially if you’re stressed, angry, anxious, worn out, torn up, forlorn, unshorn, or just ate too much candy corn.



Is there a better voice for 2020? Shredded but strong. World weary but still soulful. Been there, done that, and not giving up.


If you’ve had your fill of humble braggers on Facebook who use “#Blessed” as an excuse to post pictures of their attractive children or latest vacation, the title could be off-putting. Fortunately, Williams operates in a social medium far from the glittering crowd. Imagine the underside of Facebook, a place to post pictures of your cockroach infestation, your divorce papers or insufficient paycheck. That’s where you’ll find Lucinda.


The lyrics separated from the music read a little facile, a little predictable. I don’t love all the lines—the watchmaker who gave up his time feels forced, for example. The neglected child and the battered wife who forgive their abusers seems reductive—at least until I think about the difference between seeking revenge and seeking justice. But there are many more lines I love. The teacher who didn’t have a degree, the warrior who didn’t need to win, the innocent baby who taught us the truth, all these allow me to look over my life and experiences in a new way.


That’s one of the reasons I keep listening to this song over and over. Each image is a rich vein for contemplation. Williams may have been raised with two Methodist grandfathers, but I see Ignatian spirituality all over the place. The Examen is an Ignatian prayer of reflection on the day, a way to look for God’s presence in everyday moments. Call it goodness instead of God if you want, but God in all things is a sturdy set of glasses to re-focus your gaze. “Blessed” does the same thing.


If you haven’t already noticed, “Blessed” is a riff on the Beatitudes. Jesus calls blessed all the humble, forgotten people:  the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the oppressed, the ones who forgive, the ones who seek goodness, the peacemakers, the persecuted. Williams calls up the same sorts of people—the “suckers” and “losers,” if you will—not to call them blessed but to claim them as blessors.


I taped the poem to a trash and recycling center across the street from a church in northern Michigan. Blessed be the throwaways.


If you need a little more Lucinda to get through the next week, here’s another of my favorites. (It was my COVID lockdown song this spring.)





Lucinda Williams was born in Louisiana in 1953. Her father was the beloved poet Miller Williams, her mother an aspiring pianist with mental health issues. After her parents divorced, Williams lived with her father, moving frequently around the south with each new university job he took, eventually settling in Arkansas. She was kicked out of high school after several infractions (including not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance), and finished her education under her father’s tutelage, who gave her a hundred books to read. While in Arkansas she took up with poet Frank Stanford (you can read that crazy tragic story here), and after his suicide wrote the beautiful “Pineola.”


She began performing at age 17 in Mexico. She’s put out 14 albums (including one this year) and won multiple Grammys.




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