June 4, 2020

Karen Holman's Poem "What I Would Have Taught a Daughter"

Karen is one of the talented poets the Prechter Program is collaborating with.

On May 7, 2020, the Prechter Program had planned an Evening of Poetry as part of our art exhibit ENERGY – Brain Health and the Power of Creative ExpressionThe original plan was that published poets would read poems focused on bipolar disorder and depression. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event, like so many others, had to be postponed to May 2021.

In the interim, we wanted to feature on our website some of these amazing poets.

Karen Holman

Karen Holman works as a Peer Support Specialist for community mental health. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and serves on the editorial staff of december magazine. Her chapbook features in New Poets, Short Books, vol. IV published by Lost Horse Press. Her poetry has aired on NPR, been honored with several Pushcart nominations and frames composer David Evan Thomas’ oratorio, The First Apostle. Her fiction, hybrids, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Salamander, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, JuxtaProse, 2 Bridges Review, Interim, POOL, Quarter After Eight, Gargoyle, Sentence, Water~Stone Review, decomP magazinE, flashquake, Berkeley Poetry Review, Oxidant Engine, Portland Review, Threadcount, and UU World, among others. Her poetry was performed by Pencilpoint Theatreworks in Fight Like a Girl

We are featuring Karen's poem What I Would Have Taught A Daughter. The poem was originally published in december magazine and also performed by PencilPoint Theatreworks in Fight Like a Girl. Click here to hear the poem read by the author, with music by her husband, Ralph Johnson, composed for the poem. 

What I Would Have Taught A Daughter

The big move clumsily, little love . . .
They break everything
and then they break
                        —Bob Mezey 

I won’t tell you
            how you’re alone
but how we touch,

             a wishbone where we hold hands.

Words network the synapses between us,
            our first bridges and roads. 

We’re all contagious and
                        this, our heirloom:           

no one is anonymous
no secret ever kept. 

            In isolation,
                        there is music. 

            In blindness,
                        we feel warmth. 

Loneliness, too, touches

                       Even the broken, beyond repair,
                                    call to someone. 

I’m not sure why we shatter
            —like it’s our birthright— 

everything we touch, 

except the world has been flying
                                    apart since every particle
                        went twirling           

into far deep fields 

of radiant poppies.


Find more of Karen's work online at: