Poetry by Mark Barkawitz

A Grade School Teacher

once asked me why
i no longer capitalize
any of the words
in my poetry?

(first of all,
i feel self-conscious
referring to what i do
as “poetry.”)

but i explained
that my primary
reason for doing so
is the letter/word “i.”

i see the small “i”
as a democratic icon,
similar to whitman’s
“leaves of grass.”

capital “I” is arrogant,
erectly shaped to draw
attention to its

and because i often
find myself narrating
in gonzolike fashion,
i’m more comfortable

referring to myself
in lower case.
i blend into the scenery.
i type with one hand.

Mark Barkawitz
has earned local and national awards for his fiction, poetry, essay, and screenwriting. His work has appeared in newspapers (L.A. Herald-Examiner, Pasadena Star News & Weekly, Conscience), magazines (University Mag., Simply 4 Pets), literary journals and anthologies (Abraxas, Sojourns, Zyzzyva, Blank Gun Silencer, Fingerprints, Paws & Tales, Sport Literate, Mediphors, Me Three), underground ‘zines (Inky Blue, Monkeywire), and is posted on numerous websites (girlswithinsurance.com, thirstforfire.com, farmhousemagazine.com, voidmagazine.com, chimaeraserials.com, soulscribe.com, woofbooks.com, censoredpoets.blogspot.com). He wrote the screenplay for the feature film, “Turn of the Blade” (NorthStar Ent., ’95), has taught creative writing classes at community college, and coaches a championship track team of student/athletes. He lives with his wife, two teenage children, and breeds golden retrievers (Woof Goldens) in Pasadena, CA.