Poetry

For E. 8/30/83

Once, when the pain was blinding,

You held me tight.

I could see the hope that dangled from

The thread of a dream kept warm in your pocket.

Cold emptiness is enveloping me again.

 

I run in circles trying to find you;

I lose more and more of myself

In a frantic attempt to

Hang onto the hope you gave me.

 

There is no such thing as hope after all.

It was just your love that protected me from myself.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

East Brunswick, NJ

8/30/83

 

note: I wrote this poem at age 18

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Poetry

Goodnight, Kobi Kannan

Two speeds wind down
to slower and stop
Your legs buckle on daily walks
still you smell the postboxes
read the news
take in the cool March breeze,
brisk sunshine on your wasted body
puppy face.

The time has come
as your tastes
become more fickle than ever
You refuse food for three days
and we know you want to go.
I take you to the vet
hold you tight
know your passivity is also a sign.

You have given up the fight
no longer stubborn, resistant
ever a stalwart defender
you give in to my need
to say a furry goodbye
I hold tight, kiss your muzzle.
You are quiet, softly subdued,
your eyes shine, your breath stops.

You leave with our love
to guide you.

Shari Elizabeth Berk
Goldsboro, NC
March 25, 2014
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Poetry

The Tea Party (We’re All Mad Here) – final draft

“Really, now you ask me,” said Alice, very much confused. “I don’t think-”

“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Mad Hatter

-Lewis Carroll

If I fell down the rabbit hole, I doubt

you’d bother to catch me.

Rude of me not to save myself.

I am at best a diversion, a dangerous dalliance.

I give in to lustful avarice: three jokers in this deck

the queen of hearts is no longer in the cards.

 

Desire drives me into despised darkness

while freezing rain pellets the night.

Drink me, eat me, physically altered

Monsters haunt, unmastered.

No more.

I should stop coming around.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

March 6, 2014/March 23, 2014

Goldsboro, NC

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prose

PTS (Put to Sleep)

Desolation ached through every joint, leg muscles tucked neatly beneath her compact body, as she curled silently on the floor. She felt cold heartbreak flow through her sinewy veins, ghost-like; she decided this defined living death. Sobs, whimpers, occasional keening punctuated the lonely load she carried.

Now and again, footsteps, commotion, excited feet and childlike utterances, oohs and ahhs, ending in new life. Not for her. She was loyal beyond description, had been with the same woman for 9 years: a triathlete, they raced up small mountains together. They tackled the biggest hurdle of all as a team, her partner’s breast cancer.

She sat at her partner’s feet during the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, slept on the bed crooked in the woman’s arms when the pain was unbearable and only soft touch could attenuate the grief, rage, at the assailing cells. She was petite, but sturdy, athletic herself, with the heart of an Australian sheep dog and the moves of a herding border collie. She was an abandoned soul who had been saved by the woman’s grace, wisdom, and eye for intelligence, given a life of work and extreme play, a safe place to call home.

Now, her woman had succumbed to the metastatic monster that choked the life out of her organs, and she was alone, aging, unwanted, awaiting (politely now) “euthanasia”.

Who could know this loyal agility dog might have 5 or 6 or 8 years left; she was lithe, well-muscled, could turn on a dime; the grizzled muzzle decried years of hard play, the loyal devoted farm hand? She was continuously passed by for yipping puppies who piddled in the middle of their cages, then went splashing through their mess to greet each random stranger who stuck fingers into cage. She was more cautious: raising ears, turning head, small smile if some sign of interest, maybe a wink, a tentative move towards the gate. Most people thought she was cold. She just wasn’t on parade, wouldn’t sell herself for a circus hound. Her life had had meaning.

She couldn’t think existentially, she was a dog. But there she was on the cage floor waiting to join her woman wherever that was, if there was a place to go. She waited for the days of her life to toll; she waited for the sleep needle.

Shari Elizabeth Berk, written 2008

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Mental Health, Poetry

The Tea Party (We’re All Mad Here) – 4th edit

“Really, now you ask me,” said Alice, very much confused. “I don’t think-“

“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Mad Hatter

-Lewis Carroll

Thoughts drift in despair

half empty bottles litter my mind.

Melancholy madness wanders,

anxiety unchained, sadness unsated.

Desire drives me into despised darkness

while freezing rain pellets the night.

 

If I fell down the rabbit hole, I doubt

you’d bother to catch me.

Rude of me not to save myself.

I am at best a diversion, a dangerous dalliance.

I give in to lustful avarice: three jokers in this deck

the queen of hearts is no longer in the cards.

 

I become an abandoned baby bird

eager for your mouth

to assuage the struggle, hunger.

Drink me, eat me, physically altered

Monsters haunt, unmastered.

 

 

No more.

I should stop coming around.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

March 6, 2014

Goldsboro, NC

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Poetry

Husky Trust

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Kobi’s stubbornness does not deter me,

husky dog aloof façade no match for

fierce loyalty, dogged determination

to be good, do the right thing.

 

Days spent sphinxlike

watching from  her sandpile

morph into nights with family,

protecting those she loves

 

by sheer force of will,

kindness borne of trust

built on consistency,

time and reassuring presence.

 

There’s a lot to learn from a shy dog

overcoming grief and abandonment

learning to judge, hope,

put Faith in one human at a time.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

May 16, 2012

Goldsboro, NC

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