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Two Poems by Stephen Berk

The Family Tree

To all the sons and all the daughters of all the mothers and all the fathers who blessed their children with the demons that drove them to greatness:

Happy Mother’s Day Mother, this two-dollar gift card can say not what I can’t, but what I don’t believe. And happy Father’s Day Father, this bottle of wine is for you to drink your pain away. Just as your father did before you and his father before him.

Parenting takes skill and care. And there is no one who can better teach me to treat my own child with dignity, than the ones who had the chance to do so with me.

It’s not your fault dad, it’s your father’s fault. No it’s your father’s father’s fault.

And it’s not your fault mom, it’s your mom’s fault. No it’s your brother’s fault, no it’s your brother’s father’s fault, no it’s your mom’s brother’s fault.

It’s my fault

It’s my fault because when I have children, I will be their father. And they will be my sons and my daughters. And they will call you Grandfather Dad, and they will call you Grandmother Mom. And I may not be a perfect father for my son, but I can at least pray; Pray my son to be a decent man, that he may pray his children to be the same.

Drawing by Tona Hamashige
drawing by Tona Hamashige


Do I Pursue My Dreams

What do I write about today?

Do I dedicate a page to blaming God? Do I dedicate a book to blaming my parents? Do I give up? DO I EVER GIVE UP? Do I ask God for the power to move forward? Do I ask God for the wisdom to stand still? DO I NOT SAY? Do I not say because, I don’t know?

Do I laugh at myself? Do I kick myself? Do I hurt myself over and over again because I deserve it? Do I hurt the ones I love? Do I hurt the ones who love me?

Do I surrender to a reality that makes me sick? That I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, and God-damn-it, people don’t like me.

Do I talk to my doctor? Do I talk to a trusted advisor? Do I talk to my family – my friends? Do I talk to my God? Do I talk to myself?


Do I get loaded?


Do I realize that getting loaded is only going to make things worse? That killing myself will only kill my loved ones?

Do I take pride in what I want because that’s what I want and god-damn-it I will never apologize for my dreams? Do I ever give up on my dreams?


Do I go to grad school?

–Stephen Berk

Drawings Poetry

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