The Word: COVID-19 #6

In one of my previous posts, “Sweet Distraction,” I excerpted a poem from Tony Hoagland called, “In the Land of Lotus Eaters.” Judging from the responses that post received, that excerpt seems to have touched a good number of people. Many of them said they weren’t aware of Tony Hoagland or his work but were grateful to have been made so. That brings us to this post.

In the eulogy I wrote and delivered at the funeral service for my Dad in January of 2014, I used another Tony Hoagland poem, “The Word.” I know my finding it then was no accident. I know its relevance now is no accident. Rather than copying and pasting it into a post — and since any words of explanation or embellishment I might have chosen to write in such a post would pale in comparison to Tony Hoagland’s — I’ve set it to a fitting piece of music in this video.

I’m as moved by “The Word” today as I was more than six years ago. I hope you are, too.

Prior in this Series ⤵︎

Heroes: COVID-19 #6

Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brienhttps://obriencg.com/
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.


  1. Thanks, Mark.

    H. L. Mencken suggested “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is happy.” I think part of our cultural dysfunction (and this time out gives us a chance to finally ditch it) is to miss the connection between pleasure and wisdom. So ‘work’ is associated with pain, even if it’s keeping in shape: “No pain, no gain,” which implies a barter system for living based on struggle and strife.

    We found some lillies of the valley yesterday and had a snifforama, then ran into our friend Ray and his wonderful, awkward dog Rosie. Had a long talk about medicine, trees, deer (a couple – a doe and a yearling – wandered through), then headed home. No pain. Gain.

    Be good and Hi to Anne.