(Update 8/1/2019) My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, is available as a paperback, e-book and as an Audible. It launched as a #1 new release in several categories including educator memoirs, survivor memoirs, and near-death experiences. I hope my book helps make near-death experiences more mainstream.
Poetry, however, was my first love and focus in graduate school. My Creative Writing students sometimes ask to see my published poetry, and I usually wait until the end of the semester to show them any of my work.
I only sent out my poetry between the years of 2006-2008. Here are a few of those poems. These poems aren’t representative of some of my larger themes in my writing, but they are the ones that were chosen for publication.
COCKROACH BESIDE MY TOOTHBRUSH
There is meekness in the bow of your head
beneath your curved back,
but even humility and sensitivity
will not save you now.
Do you remember when you
raised your folded wings at right angles
from your abdomen, showing off
the white edgings of your thorax and wing pads?
You trembled for the mate you wanted,
and she looked back at you
as if the moon glowed from inside you.
You believed passion could last forever,
denying that all we have are flashes.
Still, you never imagined this ending—
an abandoned condo by a pond,
shadows extending like frail, human arms,
no food or even cereal crumbs in the kitchen,
and only my mint-flavored, disappointing toothbrush
hanging precariously near the edge of the sink.
How could you know that surveys
list you as the most despised creature on earth?
How could you possibly deduce
that the angry fall of a boot
he left behind would become
your last moment on earth?
@ 2002 by Tricia Barker
Published in Paterson Literary Review in 2008
THE MAGIC OF CROWS
As the city lights begin to salt the hilltops,
a woman becomes restless; her head is full of the wit
of crows, and her fate is tangled in the act of finding
one of their feathers by her doorstep. The feather feels light
in her hands, and she wonders which direction it might blow.
From her kitchen window, she observes how the crows
look like pieces of a ragged night scattered
across the final moments of the day.
They are the antithesis of stars, with a mystical sheen
of their own and wholly delighted to be crows as they
squawk into each other’s faces, slowly lift one foot into the air,
or dunk their ruffled heads into the dog’s bucket of water.
The woman wonders why her soup does not taste better,
why her skin does not greedily soak up the air around her,
and why these final days of summer do not burst
with the bruised pleasure of black lights, drumbeats,
and a new lover, smelling slightly of tobacco and amber,
a lover who might dip a small, velvety sumi brush
in honey, paint it on her body and then gently lick
it off while black wings flutter in the corner of her eye,
the shimmering, happy bodies of crows.
@ 2006 by Tricia Barker
Published in The Midwest Quarterly (Pittsburgh State University) in 2009
NARCISSUS IN A RELATIONSHIP
When Narcissus left for work,
I would put on the sandals he wore
to feel closer to him. My feet would soak up the remnants of the love
he had for his feet, his body,
and after a while, I realized
that in his mind
I was less important
than the ground he walked on.
@ 2006 by Tricia Barker
Published in Iodine Poetry Journal in 2008
The theme in this last poem is an important one for empaths. Recently, I have discovered the work of breakthrough life coach Lisa A. Romano. Empaths are often drawn to narcissists in many different capacities. They can also be the target of sociopaths, so it is important for empaths to learn to protect themselves. If you are interested in this topic, I highly suggest checking out some of Lisa A. Romano’s YouTube videos.
Images: The painting of the pond can be found at this link. I found the beautiful crows on Pinterest at this link.