Archive for December 23rd, 2004

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Heartbeats

December 23, 2004

5/20/2002


My mother used to say that she could tell she was pregnant
When she felt another heart beat inside of her.
It made her feel comforted to know that she wasn’t alone.
 
I remember swimming meets where I would swim the individual medley,
And my head would break water
And the sounds I heard alternated from cheering in the open air
To the sound of my heart beating in the cool water.


Science class, ninth grade,
Frog dissection, and I run out of time for the exercise,
Fail because I keep on looking at the heart, wondering why it doesn’t beat.


When I was sixteen,
My father passed away,
They told me it was because of a stroke,
But I knew it had to do with his irregular heartbeat.


Twelfth grade, my heart beats nervously as I open the note
From my number one college, letting me know I was
Rejected.


Freshman year,
At a different college,
And as we stay up late one night,
Sharing intimacies,
I feel our hearts beat together
And I know I have found her,
My soulmate, my partner, my wife


The Doctor’s office,
So many years later,
At six weeks,
And the first time I know that she is real is when I hear her
Heartbeat.


Just a dad and his two daughters,
Messing around
Laughing as we put our head on each other’s bellies and listen to our hearts beat.


The phone receiver drops from my hand
As my sister tells me I need to
Catch a plane immediately
Back to Mom, back to her home,
And I can feel my heart beat so loudly that I wonder if she can hear it over the phone.


The hospital.
The EKG
Traces my mother’s heartbeat
As she valiantly fights against the cancer that ravishes her body.


Home,
In her home,
She leaves us behind.
The nurse says she has never seen someone’s heart beat so long, with such strength,
At the end.


I write these words today, Mom,
For you, for my wife, for my children,
For myself…
And as I close my eyes I can hear your heart beat alongside my own,
A cacophony of hearts beating.
Telling me that I too will never be alone.


Someday, I hope my daughters feel a heart beat inside of them,
Something more than themselves,
Another generation in a family of hearts beating
Echoing the percussion of the hearts that beat before.





Another poem written for a WBUR Poetry Challenge.  The challenge was entitled “Vantage Verse,“ and entrants were required to write a poem taking 13 ways of looking at something.  My submission was again selected as a featured poem on “Here and Now.“  I was interviewed by Robin Young, host of the show.  The web site is here and the program can be listened to here (Real Player required to listen to the program).

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Rest for the Weary

December 23, 2004

12/2001
 
Rush,
from the house to the job
from the bank to the day care
from the school to the
Rush


Run
Hurry, hurry through the day
Hurry, hurry get it done
Hurry, hurry need to
Run


Fast
Feed the dog, pay the bills
Feed the kids, clean the dishes
Feed the ego, feed the
Fast


Quick
See the windows and the sales,
O p e n   u  p,   m y   m i  n d     s     e     t     s                   s         a         i            l


And
I
pause…


Breathe


Drink
in
the
holiday


Revel in the winter gift of lazy do-nothing holiday days when the winter white snow falls and time stands still and all of my cares slip from the knots in my stomach and the stress in my shoulders and the only time I care about is now and the only place I need to be is here and I have arrived…


If only I could stay here forever


But it’s…


Back,
To the office to the school,
To the store and to the bills
To the hustle and the
Back


I want to go back
To the holy day and rest.


–Daniel T. Barkowitz





This poem was written for a poetry challenge sponspored by WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station.  It was submitted in December 2001 and selected as a featured poem, and read on air by WBUR guest poet Molly Saccardo.   Her reading of the poem can be heard here (Real Player is required to listen to the show).

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Talking to Myself

December 23, 2004

I used to write poetry. I still write poetry today.
My father died when I was 16. My mother died when I was 32.
When I was about twelve years old, an urge to write poetry seized me. I would be filled with passion, emotion, and angst and simply need to set pen to page. Words spilled out of me, overflowing into page after page of poems, some good, some banal, some terrible. Between the age of 13 and 16 I wrote over 300 poems.
Then my father passed away. And my urge to write did as well. Maybe facing my own mortality in his death caused me to abandon writing. Maybe the effort of clamping down on my feelings of grief caused me to shut off and shut out all of the other feelings I was used to expressing in my poetry. For the next 16 years I grew up. I put away childhood urges and sank my creative energies into other more practical endeavors. I practically gave up on the poet within, and gave in to the world around me.
And then my mother passed away. Again, I found myself facing my own mortality, and unable (or unwilling) to hide the emotions away again. Words, like my tears, began to flow again. And flow… and flow… and flow…
This blog will feature a selection of my poems from then and now. I have tried to present poems with similar themes together to allow the reader an opportunity to see the change from the 16-year-old poet to the 36-year-old poet. Vanity, age, or wisdom, has caused me to do some editing and refinement to my original poetry, but only in cases (I hope) where the edits do some justice to the original idea.
I hope you enjoy the result. Please share your feedback with me by commenting on poem you like (and those you don’t) so I can learn from your feedback!