JoAnn Balingit


Your heart is a pump not much bigger than a sweet potato.
It weighs about half a pound. It is a hollow
          ball of muscle of butterflies of stone
connected to your arteries and veins.

Your heart is a steel wrecking ball, glove
unbuttoned at the wrist. Slip it off, see your heart
dented flat in places. Winking,
          a mirror ball all night tossing stars

Until pound becomes gush and sigh—and heart settles
          down to feeding cells, firing the dark
regions of your hungry brain, moving blood
steadily, without fail.

But we are all so deceived by the heart as a pump we forget
the heart itself is alive! Odd to think, the heart must pump
          blood to the heart. Feed
its own lush cravings. Dream—no matter

          how fast your heart beats—it's how
hard your heart beats that's wildly important.
(For while everyone knows that the heart beats,
very few of us know why.)

Your heart is tough but it can suffer
          injury, like any other part of the body. Luckily
given half a chance, a healthy heart will heal itself
if the cause of the hurt is lessened or removed.

Did you know, if all the work your heart does in one day
could be used to lift you off the ground, it would raise you
twice as high as the Empire State Building, twice as high
          as the lowest clouds in your sky on a brooding day?



I weeded and automated two school libraries. Pre-adolescents & teenagers coursed through these cavernous rooms, flinging off energies which made the books glow. Nevertheless,

I sent many wonderful books to recycling bins, minus their cloth-covered boards, which elementary teachers hoard. I kept Your Heart and How It Works by Herbert S. Zim (Morrow, 1959). All About Snakes (Random House, 1956) inspired "Shake the Famous Tail" in the anthology North of Wakulla (Anhinga P). New poems are germinating from Seeds: Their Place In Life and Legend (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1936); from a book about the virgin Moon; and from a biography of President Kennedy as a man who would never die.