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Archive for June 18th, 2021

[with 3 poems by Joan Barasovska]

Try this little experiment. Next time you’re having a conversation, see if you can listen, just listen, all the way to the completion of the other person’s statement without thinking about what you’re going to say next. Without devising your response. Without doing anything but listening.

But, you tell me, I always listen like that. Ahem. Bullshit. Or maybe you do listen like that, sorry I besmirched your veracity, it must be something about my Type A-ness that makes not leaping ahead of the conversation so difficult. (Yes, Linda interjects here, Anus is right.)

I was trained in a Family Medicine program at Duke that was radical for its day. We had a full-time psychologist (Belinda, I have never stopped loving you!) who was constantly available to us Residents and who led many training sessions in communication skills. We videotaped and critiqued interviews and used the technique of Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) to learn active listening, reframing, and other habits.

Linda and I had been married five years by then (we actually survived med school), had a son, soon a daughter, and when I would come home after a 36-hour shift and she was up to her eyeballs in dirty diapers you might imagine that communication was a premium commodity. Let’s see – active listening, give feedback, restate the premise – more than once Linda smacked the table and said, Hey, don’t you try that IPR stuff on me!

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World
++++ Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
++++ On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. +++++ – Arundhati Roy

There’s an echo, the in and out of breath
which fills each human, each animal ear,
stirs every blade of grass and every single leaf.
The planet, as it turns, is breathing.
She fills her lungs with empty air and lets it go.
Earth changes with each spin, each in and out.
Every anima, every human knows,
each blade of grass and leaf, down to its veins,
has an inkling of the echo of the dawn of change.
Listen to her.

Joan Barasovska


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When I read Joan Barasovska’s poems I want to listen. I hear the turbulence of years channeled into a bright stream. I hear generations speak to generations speak to Joan speak to her next generations. I hear birth and re-birth and possibility condensing and commingling into certainty. It is the quiet thunder of assurance – that we, unsettled humans prone to doubt, struggle, failure – that we may be redeemed.

These three selections are from Joan’s book, Birthing Age (Finishing Line Press, © 2018). The thirty poems weave a life from moments, images, narrative; the theme is change and growth. What seems impossible to decide, to survive, to achieve yet is decided and survived, achieved and grown into something even larger than the self could have imagined. Don’t each of us also have within us the capacity to give birth to a renewed and joyful self? May it be so.

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Let Winter Come
++++ after “Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyon

The sun at noon is weak,
the day draws in short,
night creeps in the woods.

Let winter chase small creatures into hiding,
starve those too weak to forage,
draw us indoors seeking the light we crave.

Ice stiffens creeks and ditches,
frozen rain silvers every twig,
glasses pebbles, topples patient trees.

The tilt of Earth leaves us bereft
when winter starts its work
of pitiless conclusion.

Let the great cold come and pass.
What lasts lives on to spring,
‘til spring lets summer in.

Joan Barasovska

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Birthing Age

is not painless
there are scars
bloody losses

it’s slow labor
easy to ignore
years long

unlike the brutal
hours
of birthing life

slick slippery
raging
with need

I grow pregnant
in ripe years
ready for release

give me strength
to lie down
bear down

birth this woman
bear forth
her good news

Joan Barasovska

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2020-03-07 Doughton Park Tree

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