Two Poems

Sloughing Off Skin

You wake up, but it’s hard.

You’ve lost most of your cortisol.

You’ve filled your sympathetic

nervous system with too much

gas for too long. That’s why

you bought a hybrid. You take

an anti-inflammatory, but your tissues

are still red. You’re of the genus

that is easily stressed by traffic

and sirens and helicopters.

You’re working on your perception.

You’re wearing earplugs during

the day. You read that you’re supposed

to stop comparing yourself to others.

It’s made you out of touch

with your body. That’s why

you’re doing yoga more

and more. In downward facing

dog, you look at the mat and see

your foot- and handprints. They

make you cry. Crying makes you

sweat. It is because of your amygdala.

And hippocampus. If things

don’t get better, your

unresolved parasympathetic

nervous system

will need a witness.

You don’t think

you have one.


The distracting pain

is on the left side

today, near the collarbone,

near the neck. I hold it.

It holds me. One can hold

a hand, hold a gun,

hold a position. One can be

held in a cell, in a hug.

It can hurt. It can feel

good. Someone said

you can only have

(or hold) one friend

in the region. Which one

do you choose?

I was going to stay here.

You were going to go there.

We’re both being yelled

at from all directions.

Inside, the different cells

meet. Their membranes

are bursting into

all living things.

Barbara Berg is a poet in Los Angeles with published poems in In Posse Review, Lunch Ticket, Poemeleon, and Zoetic Press. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is a member of Women Who Submit LA and regularly attends poetry workshops with Molly Bendall in Venice, California. She lives with the love of her life and two senior Maine Coon cats.